Tag Archives: spoiler

Scars of Mirrodin – Impact on Standard (Type 2)

Scars of Mirrodin.  Looming large over the horizon, Wizards’ newest expansion is set to hit the stores on October 1st.  With the release of Scars of Mirrodin new strategies will emerge and once powerful decks will disappear to the realm of Extended.  With all of the available spoilers it is time to speculate on what changes will occur to the Standard (type 2) meta-game.  This shift will be important with the 2010′s State and Provincial Championships on October 9th.  We will see if we can figure out which cards will make the biggest impact in the post Shards of Alara/M10 tournament world.  It is a time of new beginnings and a time to revisit places in our past.  Thinking about our past, I would like to take one moment to say goodbye to all of our Shards of Alara friends:

So long, Jund!

Time to hang up our Putrid Leechs and Sprouting Thrinaxs.  No deck was more dominant in the Shards meta-game than this B/G/R build.  High powered threats and spectacular removal made Jund the most feared and prepared against deck since the Faeries of Lorwyn.  The biggest loss?

Bloodbraid Elf

Forget Maelstrom Pulse and Broodmate Dragon, this Elf provided amazing card advantage to steal games all by herself. Without Bloodbraid, Jund would not have been remotely viable. This Elf Berserker found a home in every deck that could support her colors. Easily the best uncommon in the set. Now for a few more farewells:

It’s been fun, but now we need to move on. See you in Extended!

Out of the dozens of cards that have been spoiled already, I have picked up on a few that seem like they will make an impact on the Standard Meta currently dominated by U/W Control, FauNaya, Valakut-Ramp and Mythic Conscription.

U/W Control
Come rotation on October first U/W Control will loose a few pieces, most notably Elspeth Knight-Errant. It will be interesting to see if Elspeth Tirel will be able to replace her old incarnation. The new Planeswalker costs one more and cannot generate counters and token together. I think that the five mana casting cost will not prevent the switch initially but might come to really matter since the meta game is so fast right now. On the flip side, Elspeth’s new ultimate is very powerful. The next option in Planeswalkers is the powerful Venser the Sojourner. Also comining at a casting cost of five, the U/W walker has some interesting abilities. Being able to exile your Baneslayer Angel and following that up with Day of Judgment is a strong play in control. The other loss is the token generating Martial Coup. This loss should not impact the archetype to significantly since most build will only include it as a one-of. Path to Exile is another big loss to U/W, the role will need to be filled by the more situational Condemn.

FauNaya
This archetype is on the way out in my opinion. Scars of Mirrodin does not offer anything to this deck that is on par with Knight of the Reliquary or Noble Hierarch. The deck also looses Oblivion Ring, Qasali Pridemage, Realm Razer and the superstar Bloodbraid Elf. I am sure that the Vengevine/ Fauna Shaman engine will still be around but I think the deck will look vastly different.

Valakut-Ramp (Titan-Ramp)
The plan is simple; ramp into Primeval Titan and use him to set up a kill with Valakut the Molten Pinnacle. This is the big dog in the yard, Valakut-Ramp only looses Rampant Growth in the rotation. However, nothing in the new Standard will fits the curve of this card. Cultivate might work. I like Strata Scythe as an alternate win condition if you need to play around Spreading Seas. I also think that Genesis Wave fits nicely in the deck. Valakut-Ramp will be the archetype to beat early in the season until new strategies are discovered.

Mythic Conscription (Eldrazi Conscription, Mythic)
The biggest loss for this deck is Sovereigns of Lost Alara. The Exalted Spirit let you search up your Eldrazi Conscription in order to put the game away. Without the ability to tutor for the key enchantment, Mythic should no longer be a threat in Standard.

What’s Next?
Scars of Mirrodin offers us a vast selection of powerful spells that are sure to have an immediate impact on the new Standard. Take a look at some of the things you should be hoping to pick up at your Pre-release event this weekend:

Scars of Mirrodin will offer us plenty of new options and old favorites will soon go by the wayside. I am really looking forward to playing Phylactery Lich with Darksteel Axe. I recommend going to a Pre-release this weekend since there will not be much time to prepare for States coming up in October. The 2010′s State and Provincial Championships will be the first big events to play with the new Standard. Study your spoilers and see what you can do to deal with U/W control and Valakut-Ramp. Goodbye Bloodbraid Elf, and thanks for all the fish.

Rise of the Eldrazi Set Review and Analysis: Colorless

Power 9 Pro is excited to bring you another set review for Magic the Gathering’s expansion set Rise of the Eldrazi. With Pre-release and Release tournaments coming up over the next two weeks and a full spoiler available, the Power 9 Pro Team is putting in a collaborative effort to review and analyze the entire set. We’ll be looking at the cards from the vantage point of limited, affects on standard, extended or legacy-formats and whether Rise will have any new must-haves for Elder Dragon Highlander. This post is for the colorless portion of Rise of the Eldrazi.

James

Board sweepers are inherently strong so I imagine this is no different. I was a bit disappointed that Planar Cleansing never went anywhere (that I’m aware of); however, this could be a one-sided Day of judgment. Artifacts use to be safe until wotc started printing colored artifacts so saying this will see play in artifcat decks isn’t even the case anymore. Neat but is there enough colorless cards to build around this as the sweeper? Maybe this would be a good SB option against Open the Vaults style decks? That would be pretty narrow…

Joe

This looks like an amazing Wrath of God variant. Akromas Vengeance saw play at 6, and with even one of the new eldrazi support lands, this will cost the same. Seems a bit niche, but probably still powerful since it can be one-sided outside of the mirror.

Zak

I really like this card, because it’s a sweeper that doesn’t require a specific colour. I don’t think we’ve had one like this since Oblivion Stone. The ability to take out noncreature permanents is a big plus, and I believe that this could possibly see play in non-Eldrazi themed decks. Think of all the control archetypes that don’t use white. This could be extremely valuable to something like Grixis control, which doesn’t quite have a full sweeper at its disposal, but has all the other elements of a solid control deck.

Bryan

This card is very interesting and will see some play in the future. Akroma’s Vengance but easier to cast? I like it, but dont know how good it will be in the coming standard season. Obvious note should be taken that it is a tribal spell so it gains bonuses for the reduced pricing from Eye and Temple.

Dillon

This card deals with Planeswalkers, Colored Artifacts, Enchantments, Creatures, including indestructible ones, and ones with Totem armor, and fits in any color. It is truly incredible. Black finally gets a way to destroy Enchantments and Blue gets to kill creatures. Very powerful.

Rob

I suspect there will be a colorless deck after Rotation with Colored ramp spells and removal and Colorless Permanents so it can break Symmetry. Awesome with Artifact control, but playable by any deck, which brings me to a concern. If we have truly powerful Rare or higher Colorless spells, expect back breaking prices. A card playable by any deck, with any set of colors, and be a decent finisher is going to demand a price. Might also be playable in a Standard 43land-esque deck? This card will see price increases once the Scars of Mirrodin block starts dropping. Get them before then.

Mike

This takes board destruction to an entirely new level. Making it Sacrifice Colored Permanents instead of destroy them gives the card great interplay with some of the other Eldrazi cards and gets around normal tricks like Regeneration and Indestructability.

Justin

OK, this big sweeper is the first card I have seen that makes an Eldarzi deck plausible. This card goes into artifact themed EDH decks (I’m looking at you Karn). Are Urza’s Lands still in Extended? What about Cloudpost? Seems like some brown style fun to me.

  • James

    Wow. That’s pretty sick. Seems like an amazing way to get back a Broodmate Dragon or even one of these crazy Eldrazi cards. This a pretty efficient way to spend 9 man.

    Joe

    The eldrazi that can exist in your graveyard should prove to be good reanimator targets. Also, at a “mere” nine mana, and at uncommon, this seems like a likely candidate to see at least SOME limited play.

    Zak

    I think that this card shows just how swingy the Eldrazi can be. Assuming you have a worthwhile animation target when you hit 9 mana (which you should), this card is almost impossible to deal with without an opponent also casting an Eldrazi. It’s hard enough to have a removal spell in limited that can take down something of this size, but with another free creature along with it, Artisan promises to wreck limited (in a good way).

    Bryan

    Rise from the grave effect is cool, but this guy costs so much that I dont see him seeing competitive constructed play. Bomb in limited.

    Rob

    One thing I like about this guy is that if your opponent has sent one of your great guys to the bin, you get to return it regardless of any possible counterspells and if he resolves, you’ve doubled up the threats and pressure, likely enough to crack through. If expensive mana costs become par for the course, this guy seems pretty good.

    Mike

    This seems like it has a minimal effect on other Eldrazi cards, which only trigger when you cast them. Though returning a double digit P/T creature with Annihilator is nothing to slouch at.

    Justin

    This guy is a must in Eldrazi themed decks. Probably best as a 2 of. Recursion is always powerful and with the mana commitment inherent with Eldrazi, it is important to keep tempo.

    [card]

  • James

    I’m a bit sad to see this doesn’t have the new Totem ability. I’d really hate to invest 8 mana more into a creature and then have it removed from the battlefield immediately there after…or before it resolves.

    Joe

    Wow. I’m glad I have a set of nomad mythmakers! This is an excellent aura, costing very little from an Eldrazi perspective, and enchanting a creature already on the board, essentially giving you pseudo haste with your 10/10 +, trample, annihilaor beats. Should often be GG the turn you play it.

    Zak

    I love this card. Finally Arcanum Wings has a home, and a darn good one. just switch off a measly flying aura for this, and you’re golden. Too bad Extended season is winding down…

    Bryan

    When you read this card the first impression i have is “Win”. this card is pretty crazy in the sense that it can make any creature on the battlefield a complete threat. Of course the fact that it is an Aura will reduce this card from seeing any sort of competitive play. Especially when we have so many good pieces of spot removal currently in standard.

    Rob

    Nomad Mythmaker, Auratouched Mage, Zur the Enchanter all put this thing to use in older formats to voltron together some suddenly scary creatures of doom, but in standard we have Sovereigns of Lost Alara which can make any random dork into a true monster late game. EDH will make the most use of this, seeing as Auras usually mean too great a risk for too little a reward in competitive, but I wouldn’t rule this out completely. Unlikely, but not impossible to see play.

    Mike

    If the new locations that make Eldrazi Spells cheaper actually work, this could be crazy in limited, but as card types usually go, it doesn’t get much worse than Aura-Rare.

    Justin

    Auras have to be pretty great in order to see play. An 8cc aura should be amazing. This one is not.

    James

    pretty insane. I like how this continues the Lorthos (or Vorthos theme as Joe discussed on Power 9 Pro) and Darksteel Colossus theme of making really huge, mythic creatures. This one is a bit off the hook. Any way of cheating this out is great. Hypergensis loves this; as do Polymorph and Summoning Trap. Insane.

    Joe

    I am very excited about this mythic, mostly because it’s the pre-release foil, so I’m sure to get my hands on a couple. It’s also looking like one of the better Eldrazi to use in a Sneak Attack type deck. Outside of this kind of cheat-onto-the-battlefield kind of strategy, this seems like a very high CMC. I’m dusting off my copies of warp world and summoning trap.

    Zak

    My inner Johnny wants to use this with Maelstrom Archangel, because it would be that awesome. I find it extremely hard to believe that this will ever be cast normally, even with the aid of Eye of Ugin. It seems like Progenitus just got replaced in extended Hypergenesis, because this does all it does and more.

    Bryan

    Of course all the abilities on this card are crazy, but the chances of me casting this 15 mana dude are very slim. Fast decks such as Boros and allies are still viable and the likely-hood that you live to cast this is slim. Having this guy in your opening hand is a mulligan.

    Rob

    This guy is cute. So expensive, but most likely it will be cheated into play or abused for its casting cost. I’m looking at you, Djinn of Wishes, Polymorph, Lurking Predators, Riddle of Lightning and Explosive Revelation. If you are hard casting and your opponent can’t counter, the card might as well just say “You Win”. Though, a lone Vampire Nighthawk can bring the giant down… @Zak: Protection from colored spells is nowhere near as strong as Protection from Everything, but on all other accounts, yes this is scary in that role, unless it is just chumped blocked with random flying dorks.

    Mike

    This guy is obviously a Baller amongst ballers. Emeria wins the Eldrazi god-war. If you can slap this guy down it’s good game. I mean you take an extra turn just by casting him and he can’t be countered. 15 mana is so hefty though.

    Justin

    This is Kozileks’ angry drunken uncle. No one wants to see this guy resolve. Again it seems like Eldrazi are all about mana acceleration. If my Eldrazi deck curves out at 15 then this is my finisher. Concordant Crossroads, Cloudstone Curio and Emrakul’s nephew Kozilek seems like fun.

    Joe

    With all the Eldrazi Spawn generators, this seems among the most likely of the Eldrazi to see the light of the battlefield in limited. Alas, it’s only annihilator 1, and has no evasion. I’m not planning to run this guy without tons of the spawn generators.

    Zak

    This is the weakest of the Eldrazi, but albeit one of the easier ones to power out. In limited, I can see these guys getting picked much higher if you can amass many spawn generators. The best part is that all these are common, and if you can land this guy early, you can steadily decrease the probability of an opponent dropping an eldrazi by making them sacrifice their lands. If they opt to sacrifice other permanents, congratulations, you just gained card advantage!

    Bryan

    not that bad of a dude. Annihilator is going to be intersting to play with. I always like having options with how to cast my spells.

    Rob

    This could be the fastest little colorless guy you can get out. Shame that doesn’t mean much.

    Mike

    This guy is interesting, he might be the easiest guy to cast in limited b/c of all the cards that produce Eldrazi Spawn, but after looking at some other creatures here, 7/7 with A1 sauce isn’t anything to write home about.

    Justin

    This guy screams tempo in the Eldrazi deck. I think he is a great fit. I like how Shapeshifters from Lorwyn also count as Eldrazi Spawn.

    James

    This is pretty well priced. I’m not sure how all these mega-costing creatures are going to shape up. Are we stuck playing 18, 19 lands in limited? Seems like it would be really slow. Anyway, if this sticks around, it’s hot sauce. The draw ability is pretty tits.

    Joe

    I think Kozilek will prove to be a bit of a dud. He can’t sit in the graveyard, and his best benefit, the draw 4, doesn’t trigger when he’s cheated into play. He has a high annihilator count though. You have to commit to casting this guy. Now, that said, in limited you might find yourself awash in Eldrazi Spawn, in which case, kozilek is quite castable as early as turn 5 or 6 in some cases. In that situation he’ll surely shine.

    Zak

    Looking at all the eldrazi, Koxilek seems like one of the best. He’s a reasonable (I use this term lightly, and only in the context of Rise) 10 mana, and just wrecks face when you cast him. If you open him in limited, you should have no trouble winning games. Constructed might be a different story, because the sheer amount of removal that exists will make it hard for the annihilator to trigger. However, at least you get a free Tidings!

    Bryan

    In my opinion, one of the better Eldrazi. his casting cost isnt that far off from playable and the rewards are pretty good. Refulling late game hand and getting a large creature is always nice.

    Dillon

    This will probably be the one hitting the most battlefields out of the Eldrazi cycle. He completely reloads your hand and then wrecks your opponent. 10 mana actually seems doable rather than 15 mana for Emrakul.

    Rob

    When first spoiled this guy seemed pretty silly, then Emrakul was spoiled and put him in perspective. If you are going to cheat, go all the way. If you are going to hardcast, go lower and get more done with less risk.

    Mike

    10 Mana actually seems reasonable for this guy. You draw four cards, he’s pretty big, he might end up being played in blue based control decks because of his relative cheapness and his card drawing.

    Justin

    I am assuming that drawing 4 cards is good. I thought of something when I saw Annihilator… sacred ground? Also in extended (for now).

    Joe

    This guy can live in the graveyard and therefore be reanimated. Seems like a natural for black decks that run one of the ubiquitous sacrificial edicts, such as cruel edict. Just animate dead and you’re on your way.

    Zak

    I’m loving having some Eldrazi that will make decent reanimation targets. And if they weren’t powerful enough, this card has intense synergy with itself and other Eldrazi, netting you a reward for attacking with cards with Annihilator. However, the odds of getting 2 Eldrazi out at the same time seem so low that this appears to be a “win-more” card. Time will tell, though.

    Bryan

    the obvious point on this guy is the lack of a graveyard clause. This gives him the ability to be reanimated. Pretty cool if you ask me. Could this card be good with Maelstrom Pulse?

    Rob

    High Casting cost, niche ability. Yes, Annihlator will be running about, but once you have 12 mana to drop guys, you probably have better and more reasonable advantages to expect out of your cards than stealing a few of you opponents permanents. Wish this ability was on a cheap Enchantment or Artifact instead.

    Mike

    This guy is pricey, but his ability is crazy with all the annihilator running around. I just don’t know if it will matter since if you’re annihilating your opponent’s entire board aren’t you already on the path to victory?

    Justin

    It That Betrays has the coolest name in the set. Its ability seems a little too win-more for my taste. You should already have the game in control by the time this ability is relevant.

    Joe

    I dig the flavor of a free [card]hindering light]/card] kind of effect for eldrazi themselves, but a normally Eldrazi-costed spell for lesser beings and spawn. Unlikely to make the cut in any limited deck I run though.

    Zak

    If an Eldrazi-specific deck emerges, you can bet that this will play a key part. However, on it’s own it’s just a terrible counterspell. I eagerly await a deck that can drop an Eldrazi, bait the opponent’s removal spell, and then cast this. Unfortunately, it does nothing to stop Day of Judgment, which is something the Eldrazi must all fear.

    Bryan

    Not good. situational cards like this are never good. You could play hindering light and atleast not be completely out of the game the whole time.

    Rob

    Playablity would be this not being a Hindering Light, being 3 or 4 mana cheaper, or working on power 5. As it is, it is very niche and people will shoehorn it into more than just Eldrazi control decks (if such a thing can really exist). On the plus, if you are tapping out to drop a big guy, you have a free counter to keep him from getting a Path to Exile before you untap.

    Mike

    If you’re only playing Eldrazi then I could see this being decent? Depends on how badly you want to swing in with these guys, but the good ones do crazy stuff just by casting them so who knows? I could see being really frustrated if you just sac’d a bunch of Eldrazi Spawn only to get blown out by doom blade though.

    Justin

    Counter magic in a color other than blue is pretty sharp. I would like to see this in an Extended Eldrazi build. Probably wont. Situational at best.

    James

    Hmmm. Uncommon. Probably a first pick uncommon. Players will be hard pressed to deal with this. Problem is that it’s not “crazy” to think of there being two of these in a draft pod. Colorless means that anyone casts it too. Man, I just don’t see this not being the shit in limited. For constructed, there are better Eldrazi at about the same cost.

    Joe

    Yikes, that’s nifty evasion, especially since they must sacrifice 3 to the annihilator. 11 is pushing it, requiring a bunch of spawn to get him out there, but it’ll probably happen. Not bad for an uncommon. This will probably turn out to be a common curve-topper for people with spawn but no rare or mythic top dog in their pool.

    Zak

    I really don’t know how relevant the blockers clause is. If all my opponent wants to do is to sit and chump-block my Eldrazi, I’m happy to just sit there and whittle away their board presence. however, it could be relevant if one wants to come out victorious when both players have Eldrazi out; whoever’s Eldrzai goes unblocked the longest will win out.

    Bryan

    This guy has a pretty cool ability that we’ve seen before. The requirements for blocking should make this guy almost completely unblockable after a few turns.

    Rob

    Uncommon Eldrazi like this guy are going to warp the way we understand Limited. He is every bit the bomb. Guys like these should really only lose to someone sitting on removal or who plays a bigger badder Eldrazi when the turn comes back. Which brings me to the thought, “Where is all the Removal?” Oh well, more cards yet to be spoiled.

    Mike

    Annihilator 3 combined with his blocking limitations makes this guy a real beater, better at attacking than anyone other than Emeria.

    Justin

    This fatty is a nice high end creature. Especially when you look at his rarity slot. In limited this guy is nuts. Not as good as other Eldrazi we have seen, but he’s not a mythic. I could see taking this guy really early in draft but I doubt the Pathrazer can find the road to constructed.

    James

    Seems like filler. I mean, why pay 7 mana to get 5 back? For the blockers I guess…There are a lot of these spawn-mana dudes in this set so maybe it’s a way of cheating the mana requirements? Hmm, after thinking through that, I guess I can see this having a use. It’d be a role player at most though. One or two of these spawn guys and a mega eldrazi could work out pretty well. I like the concept of not having to run 20 lands in limited.

    Joe

    This makes your turn 8 consist of a 12-drop. So I think this it likely to be a key part of many BigEldrazi approaches. Without a healthy supply of spawn, I just don’t see how the Go Big plan will work.

    Zak

    This is the sort of card that the Eldrazi needed, and while a 7-mana ramp spell may not seem like much. I love the idea of bringing out a Hand of Emrakul on turn 7 or earlier, and this seems like it will help make larger Eldrazi frequent the battlefield a little more in limited. I suspect that these will get passed a fair bit in Pack 1, but will get snapped up more frequently in pack 3, because people will have their big Eldrazi and will be more concxerned with bringing them out.

    Bryan

    one of the better ramp spells to play your eldrazi.

    Rob

    At cost, this is inefficient. With Discounts from Crazy Markov’s Eldrazi outlet Temple and Ugin Optical, it gives a decent chunk of chump blocks, or annihilator chumps, and replaces itself or ramps for the next big spell. Could this type of thing find it’s way into Storm decks in older formats if you get the cost reliably under 5? I think its possible.

    Mike

    If this were an instant I think it’d be incredible, as is it’s probably just awful.

    Justin

    I first I found this card a bit underwhelming. Then I remembered Eldrazi Monument and got a little excited. Then I thought about it a bit more and realized I wanted Coat of Arms instead…. There are better ways to generate mana. I find myself asking “What do I want to be doing when I have seven mana?” The answer is not drop a small horde of chump blockers that can possibly generate some mana. Twincast? Mirari? Not a fan.

    Joe

    Wow. I never thought I’d see an activated ability that just straight up costs 20. This guy’s not bad at spewing spawn, but it begs the question of where you got the 10 for Spawnsire in the first place. Still, he’s a huge wall, capable of fending off the uncommon Eldrazi while he ramps to even Bigger guys. I’m guessing that his “ultimate” will not be activated in any tournaments unless an arbitrarily-large-mana-combo exists in the format. Even then, surely there’s better ways to win.

    Zak

    This guy’s last ability makes me want to make an Extended deck with Cloudpost, Vesuva and the Urzatron to see what could happen. If you don’t automatically win if you resolve this ability, remember that you “cast” the eldrazi, so feel free to cast Tidings, Vindicate, and Time Walk via Kozilek, Ulamog and Emrakul respectively if you manage to get this off, and have devoted sideboard slots to them.

    Bryan

    Crazy abilities that will never be relevant.

    Rob

    Best thing about this guy is the token making. But again, you should be doing something better with your mana at this point.

    Mike

    This guy isn’t impressive at all but he might be a necessary evil when, in playtesting, you realize how hard it is to consistently cast large Eldrazi creatures.

    Justin

    TIMMY! I like this guy as a way to litter the battlefield with tokens. If you are playing Eldrazi then you have the mana to make this guy sing. I think this card has the the raw power that Timmy loves as well as the potential for Johnny goodness.

    James

    I like the idea of knocking out another Eldrazi with this; problem is that if you’re casting this guy to kill an Eldrazi that means you’re already behind in the game. All these cards with Annihilator are just nutso though.

    Joe

    This, and Emrakul, are the eldrazi to hope for. Indestructible will be huge, as all these guys have huge targets on their heads. He’s got a high annihilator count, he goes all angel of despair on the opposing Eldrazi, and he’s got a middle-of-the-road cost for his kind.

    Zak

    Frankly, I’m dissapointed in the last of the three titan Eldrazi. Both Emrakul and Kozilek net you insane amounts of advantage when they hit the field, and destroying a single permanent appears lackluster when compared to the other two. The indestructibility effect is nice against the likes of Jund, but in a format where Path to Exile and Oblivion Ring see plenty of play, I’m not sure how releavnt this guy will be compared to the other Eldrazi goodness.

    Rob

    If only this was when it enters, instead of when cast. The thought of more Hypergenesis fodder is sexy, and I haven’t even gotten the deck built yet, but sadly this fails. It does win the trump war with Kozilek, killing him when cast. but still likely never sees the board against Emrakul. Meh.

    Mike

    The last of the three gods here is pretty good, but I don’t think it’s as good as many of the other Eldrazi creatures who at least have a niche, this guy is a shriekmaw.

    Justin

    This is the annoying cousin to Kozilek. It seems like this Eldrazi Legend is easily the weakest of the bunch. Indestructible is nice but I feel that Kozilek’s ability to draw cards has a much bigger impact on the game.

    James

    And of course, we get to the common Eldrazi that only has Annihilator 2 and is a piddly 8/8. This will be the guy who wins games. This is the card you pick up first and never look back. Man…so crazy. 8 mana for Annihilator 2 on a 2/2 would have been the shizz and they made it an 8/8!! In-Sane!!! And at “only” 8 mana, I bet this could be played in constructed too…without any fancy shennanigans to cheat it out.

    Joe

    Common Eldrazi, annihilator 2, 8 CMC. This guy will be played for sure. He can come out fairly quickly on the back of a few spawn. Holding back on some removal seems likely to be a key play in this limited format.

    Zak

    This seems to be the benchmark for Eldrazi in limited, and an effective deck could easily pack 2-3 copies of this guy. This could see some constructed play as a finisher for decks that relally need one, but I thiink there are probably better options for not a whole lot more mana. Excellent card in limited. He will win games; I guaruntee it.

    Rob

    Common limited bomb? It is going to be so hard to adjust to this limited format because of all the fat. ‘Attacks each turn if able’ as a drawback? Doesn’t Annihilator 2 almost make that a given anyhow?

    Mike

    This is exactly how i’d dream up a common Eldrazi creature. At 8 mana it’s actually castable in a limited game and it’s going to be a pain in the butt to block with annihilator 2 every turn

    Justin

    This guy is a common so he will have a BIG impact on limited. I have yet to see any spot removal spoiled so this guy is a house. Not versatile enough for constructed.

  • James

    I’m not moved or overly excited about this. Kinda tough after the awesomeness I Just went through.

    Joe

    Hmm… pretty un-amazing card drawer. I hope I don’t end up having nothing better to run than this.

    Zak

    Uhh… If this costed 2 it would be much better, but as is it doesn’t seem to do a lot. Compared to Jayemdae Tome, this costs one more to get in the first place, and requires you to lose life to activate it. As much as I love drawing cards, by the time you take enough for this to be relevant, I’m sure some other card would have been better for you, and this will be too little too late. Awesome art though; go Chippy!

    Rob

    The 5 mana cost hurts, but then to only gain back half of the life AND pay 2 mana and four counters to activate it, the card I draw I don’t think really makes up for this super slow late game card. Maybe a Fog/Control Variant with Mirrodin tricks in the future, but for now, I disapprove. Still using the Art as a Wallpaper though.

    Mike

    This card just seems very slow, and on what turn is a control player going to cast it? If you have to take 4 damage to even activate it, how long is it going to be useful for? I don’t like this card much.

    Justin

    The mana cost makes this card unappealing. This card reeks of something that R&D was excited about and then they watered it down when annoying decks popped up in the Future Future League. I’m sure it can find a home in some wacky Johnny build but all in all it seems a bit sub par with all the gigantic creatures running around. I would sac this to Annihilator instead of a plains in a heartbeat.

  • James

    Master Transmuter comes to mind as an abuse outlet. Maybe I’m just a sucker though; I always felt she was just waiting to be super good… The abilities are pretty weird. I don’t like that you have to pay three and then sac to get the 3 cards. Type to draw 3 cards seems sufficient. For limited I’m starting to think cards like this are going to be pretty necessary if we players are ever going to get to 11 mana…

    Joe

    This looks strong, ramping you to Eldrazi, or drawing you into answers. I like it, even if it’s a bit slow and unorthodox for a mana artifact.

    Zak

    Thi card seems fantastic. It’s excellent in limited if you want to power out Eldrazi behemoths more reliably than with temporary sacrifices of Spawn tokens, and in constructed it can go well in a control deck. And do I really need to talk about how awesome this could be in EDH?

    Rob

    Um, ok. Mana ramp for Eldrazi guys, but for those of us trying to win, this accel comes about 4 land drops too late. I’ll enjoy playing with it in Limited and EDH but I’m not likely to play it in any constructed tourneys. Of course all that could change when Scars comes out with a good Artifact Control deck.

    Mike

    This is an interesting ramp card. It’s weird a ramp card costs six, but with everflowing chalice this card is reasonable. The fact that you can draw 3 cards when you’ve caught up to your mana is definitely a cool ability.

    Justin

    I like this card for EDH, especially in colors where card drawing is scarce like Red. It seems too slow for Construted at this point, but that could all change when Shards rotates out.

  • Joe

    Big, slow, not my style.

    Zak

    Sigh… It’s Anodet Lurker‘s big brother. If you’re spending six mana on this in limited, you’re doing something wrong and wil probably get overrun by levelers and/or Eldrazi.

    Rob

    I’d rather have a Lodestone Golem.Otherwise see the same comments for Dreamstone Hedron.

    Mike

    I like this guy, 6 mana isn’t too much for a limited game, he will definitely get you to the late turns when you can start casting your big eldrazi stuff if you go that route.

    Justin

    In a set full of high casting cost, powerful threats, this guy is underpowered. Lame for an uncommon.

  • James

    Sweetness. Rare so not the craziest of them all but it has high utility; especially on an overcosted flier as I’m sure Rise of the Eldrazi has.

    Joe

    Should be hot. Even if you just run out a flier and equip, you can often race before your opponent hits Eldrazi town.

    Zak

    It’s so expensive, but it might just make it as a singleton target for Stoneforge Mystic to tutor up and play cheaply. I have this vision of a Baneslayer Angel attacking with this, but I just don’t know how relevant it could possibly be when another card would probably be more effective

    Rob

    This amuses me. So many guys could be awesome with this on them, but we need to use guys like Stoneforge Mystic, and Kor Outfitter, who have fairly low CMC, thus defeating the purpose largely.

    Mike

    This is equally as pricey as grappling hook and has a lot more potential. The fact that it’s rare is kind of annoying, because if this had trample it’d be outstanding.

    Justin

    Not really impressed with this piece of equipment. The gains are marginal on early drops and the impact is small late game. Do I want to spend 4 mana for this on turn 4? Nope.

  • James

    Kinda neat. I’ve not really played the “mill deck” so I can’t speak to its viability. Maybe this would be a good sideboard option against Dredge? Those decks fill the graveyard up quickly. “5 mana” (after the 6 to play) to mill 20 cards would be pretty off the hook. I’m sure someone will throw this into a control deck to see how it goes.

    Joe

    Auto-mill for 6 + one turn? I like this as a win condition more than any of the Eldrazi. This will be a commonly played card in EDH too, though maybe not as much in multi-player matches as in 1v1.

    Zak

    So we have a Millstone steroids. People might be tempted to play this in limited, but I would caution against it, because in the 4 or so turns you spend casting this and milling them, you’ll probably be crushed underfoot by an Eldrazi or two. I do echo Joe’s sentiments about EDH, this could be pretty awesome.

    Rob

    Strictly EDH and Casual. With three Gaea’s Blessings running around the format, and Milling usually being a subpar strategy (and I love to mill people) this is really kinda worthless.

    Mike

    This card could get out of hand quickly, especially in a limited game, but as for constructed applications, things like archive trap just seem more consistent to base a mill deck around once Font of Mythos rotates out

    Justin

    Holy crap! This goes right into my Szadek, Lord of Secrets EDH deck. YAY! I like it a bunch…. yeah only for that reason. I think it would be funny to play late on a dredge player too.

  • Joe

    Should be awesome in limited, then become a bookmark forevermore.

    Zak

    It lets your more mediocre guys trade with the big Eldrazi, but it shouldn’t be a permanent solution due to it’s intense equip cost.

    Rob

    5 to equip? I’ll pass.

    Mike

    This card would’ve been Kor Outfitter’s best friend if it wasn’t triple ROE draft, otherwise it isn’t awesome

    Justin

    Equip cost is way too high. I would rather play Feast of the Unicorn.

  • Joe

    This feels like a “win more” to me, but sometimes it’ll go on a flier and count all your walls for the boost, so I might play it in such a deck.

    Zak

    The cost for this is way to high for something that resembles Scion of the Wild. If you’re going for the Eldrazi style win-condition, is this gong to be relevant at all? Methinks not.

    Rob

    Cantrips, filters mana, and is a good basic Utility Card. Going to be great fixer in limited.

    Mike

    Well, open the vaults just got a new friend. That deck could definitely come back before Shards of Alara rotates out this fall.

    Justin

    House. This card is powerful in a subtle way. I like it for multi-colored EDH decks. Strong in Limited and I could see it making a splash in Standard. I would not feel bad cascading into this.

  • Joe

    It cantrips, so if you need this fixer, it’s relatively painless.

    Zak

    YES!!! Remember how Time Seive was used in an awesome combo/stall deck before Zendiakr came out? The only thing which stopped the deck’s growth was the rotation of Elsewhere Flask. Well now this deck is back and should be able to make a serious gash in the metagame now that we have another 2 mana cantripping artifact in addition to Kaliedostone.

    Rob

    Cantrips, filters mana, and is a good basic Utility Card. Going to be great fixer in limited.

    Mike

    Well, open the vaults just got a new friend. That deck could definitely come back before Shards of Alara rotates out this fall.

    Justin

    House. This card is powerful in a subtle way. I like it for multi-colored EDH decks. Strong in Limited and I could see it making a splash in Standard. I would not feel bad cascading into this.

  • Joe

    Wow, even artifacts get walls in ROE. This is going to be interesting to see how slow the format really ends up being.

    Zak

    Umm…I guess? This seems like it could be okay in limited, but what good does preventing one damage to you (not a creature) do when there are Eldrazi wrecking your board.

    Rob

    Quick and dirty cleric wall. What’s not to like.

    Mike

    This is a great limited concept. I love the stats and the tap-ability. I love everything about this card getting you to your bombs in a draft or sealed.

    Justin

    Meh. Its a wall.

  • Joe

    Interesting bear here. I’m not usually keen on drawing cards for my opponents, but this guy at least helps any deck with aggressive intentions to be on-curve.

    Zak

    This also could help out the Time Sieve deck in standard, because you’re already using Howling Mine effects. Outside of a deck where you really don’t care what the opponent plays, I can’t see this seeing too much play. The opportunity for your opponent to capitalize by you playing a 2/2 in this environment are just too great.

    Rob

    Another cheerleader for Scars of Mirrodin. I’m soo looking forward to cobbling together a great colorless control deck. 2/2 for 2 colorless plus a card seems about right for letting your opponent get a card, and if you can punish your opponent for that card, or take it back away from him, it is awesome.

    Mike

    Pretty crazy ability. I’m not sure how big the drawback is of letting your opponent draw a card in a limited game. I wan’t to say I don’t want to let my opponent do that, and this guy is just a grizzly bear, so I guess it depends on how badly you need to fill your curve with no mana issues.

    Justin

    I like this guy. Perfect at uncommon. I can see this one hitting the $3-$5 dollar mark pretty quick. Great tempo and card advantage that can fit in any color.

  • Joe

    Way too slow. If it cost 3 or less, this would be fine, but then it might be pretty insane in constructed I guess.

    Zak

    There’s no way this will ever see a great deal of play. It’s a pity that it doesn’t count the instants you cast in order to ramp up to it, and seems like a junk rare.

    Rob

    This is such strange card. Seems like another Casual or EDH player only. It’ll be a buck rare unless someone finds a way to put it where it doesn’t belong, like in a burn deck or some sort of permission deck.

    Mike

    This card might as well just read Bulk Rare. There might be a casual deck out there based off this, or maybe something with everflowing chalice in a blue control deck going on, but 7 is expensive. It is an interesting way to kill your opponent while just sitting on counters though.

    Justin

    This card is looking for the guy who is going to go “OMG! this would be hilarious! I have to build a deck around this card right away!” Not sure if that guy is out there but there is a chance.

  • Joe

    I like this, whether it goes on your flying wall or just a random dork.

    Zak

    I knew that this set would have an Animate Wall variant, and this doesn’t disappoint. At very worse, it’s a slightly more expensive [cxard]Vulshok Morningstar[/card], which was just fine in limited.

    Rob

    Turns walls on. I’m always skeptical of any equip cost higher than 2, but to make a hard to kill and cheaper than normal guy into a swinger can turn a passive game into a race to the end.

    Mike

    It’s a little pricey, but man are there a lot of walls in this block, so this could be interesting on a Gomazoa

    Justin

    Trying to make walls exciting is like trying to make watching paint dry exciting. How does a wall get into a chariot anyway? Poor flavor here.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts. Did we miss anything?
    You can also check out the rest of the set review and analysis. :)
    Colorless White Blue Black

  • Power 9 Pro Spoiler for Rise of the Eldrazi

    The release of Rise of the Eldrazi is right around the block and as customary for the Magic the Gathering community that means, Spoiler Season!

    Power 9 Pro is elated to participate in its first spoiler. To get a broad look at these cards, we thought we’d do another round table discussion (carried out via email). Without further ado. :)

    Pathrazer of Ulamog, Rise of the Eldrazi
    Pathrazer of Ulamog, Rise of the Eldrazi

    Sean:
    If this guy attacks he will just take over the game. The problem is the 11 mana price tag. There isn’t much more I can say. If there is the mana accel that people think there will be in the format he could be great. If there isn’t, he will never come into play.

    Mike:
    Just knowing that this guy is uncommon is his most interesting trait. I think WOTC gave us Everflowing Chalice and Eye of Ugin in Worldwake and not Rise of Eldrazi for a reason, and non-rare Eldrazi creatures are likely the reason. I have a feeling it’ll be hard to cast these creatures but when they’re getting passed around the draft table it could get awfully silly.

    Justin:
    I think this card shows that Eldarzi will all be pretty darn expensive CC wise (time to pick up any extra [card]Eye of Ugin[/card[). Annihilator seems like it will be an Eldrazi only mechanic. It fits if you have read any of the MtG fiction from this set. Makes me wish (shudder) for Urzatron to come back in M11.

    James:
    Rather than mana acceleration or cards that reduce the cost by one, there could be a mythic Master Transmuter like card as a way to cheat this into play–or any of the anticipated big mana Eldrazi? It would be neat if it turned out to be a 2/2 Kor creature.
    Annihilate is ridiculous obviously; I just don’t get all drooly for an 11 cc creature. Annihilate 1 on a 5cc creature would be sick though.

    Valakut Fireboar, Rise of the Eldrazi
    Valakut Fireboar, Rise of the Eldrazi

    Dillon:
    The Valakut Fireboar looks like a nice finisher in Limited. I could see him being splashed for in a control style limited deck. I don’t see red wanting to run him in Constructed when they have three Ball Lightning effects at their disposal.

    Rob:
    Valakut Fireboar is a Wall for Red that can get there in a final push. If you are attacking with him and your opponent won’t die this turn, you’re doing it wrong.

    Justin:
    I have to agree with Rob “If you are attacking with him and your opponent won’t die this turn, you’re doing it wrong.” I want to put this piggy in a Chandra Ablaze red control deck. I HATE the flavor text on this card. Boo.

    Mike:
    I think in limited this is fine. We’ve seen similar creatures at similar costs stabilize boards. Now this guy can turn things around and Kill it. Probably counter intuitive to what you want to be doing with red, but there’s limited potential here.

    Sean:
    Rawr!

    This guy is red’s convertible turtle. Sometimes you need a guy with a huge ass, which the Fireboar certainly has. He will only attack if the board is empty or if going for the win, but that’s fine. Sometimes red just wants a guy to keep the pressure off. I see this guy as a role player in limited.

    Mammoth Umbra, Rise of the Eldrazi
    Mammoth Umbra, Rise of the Eldrazi

    Mike:
    While this card isnt very strong (but, if ROE has a lot of trample it could see limited play), the mechanic is interesting. It’ll only be relevant in standard if there are low costs versions in specific colors. The creatures that could benefit from this right now are pretty limited and only Knight of the Reliquary leaps out in my mind as potential busted card with extra protection, especially when he can load you up a sejeri steppe to protect anyone else your opponent might try to destroy.

    Sean:
    Why are auras bad in limited? 2 for 1s. Unless we are talking about something absurd like Gigantiform or Power of Fire, this risk of bounce and removal are too great. WotC’s latest attempt to solve this problem seems to be Totem Armor. It could have simply been “If enchanted creature would be destroyed, instead regenerate it and destroy this Aura”, but they didn’t even go that far. It’s just remove all damage, which only saves the creature from burn spells and combat.

    About the card itself, it costs too much. I expect the card will be fine in limited and never see play in constructed.

    Justin:
    Once again WotC is trying to make auras playable *sigh*. The biggest concern when playing an aura is obviously getting 2-for-1ed. This card would be house if we did not have O-Ring, Path, or an exile (rfg) zone. Limited seems like the only place we will see this hit the table. Maybe white gets a wall that brings back enchantments??

    Corpsehatch, Rise of the Eldrazi
    Corpsehatch, Rise of the Eldrazi

    James:
    This looks like the exact reason that auras just don’t make the cut. After counting the Spawn’s mana, this is the same cc as Hideous End and that card is obviously good. Everything so far has been uber-expensive, and this is certainly a form of the ramp everyone’s been alluding hoping for.

    Mike:
    This is fine removal for limited with 2 chump blockers or ramp. It’s pretty clear it won’t have any constructed applications but if removal is light in the next set then there’s no reason why this card wouldn’t be fine.

    Sean:
    This card is pretty strong in limited. 5 mana removal is a little costly, but always welcome in sealed. The value of the two dudes will largely be determined by the rest of the set, but at worst they chump block pretty well. I’m thinking this card could be comparable to Skeletonize, despite it’s sorcery speed.

    Rob:
    These give me a feeling of WotC repeating a mistake they made in the Kamigawa block: Pricing pieces higher to make up for generated advantage elsewhere. In Kamigawa block, pricing on Arcane spells was wonky and higher than they would have otherwise been because they can be spliced onto. Here, I think they are pricing things higher because there will in theory be plenty of abundant mana floating around.

    Take Corpsehatch for instance. For 5 mana, we kill any non-black (non-pro-black) creature, Get two chump blockers, and those two blockers can become mana. With you investing mana into guys that can give some back, you get to do funny things. For example: Turn 6 you can kill the opponent’s Baneslayer, making the spawn, sacrifice the two spawn and tap mountain to Ghostflame his Kor Firewalker and be free to swing in.

    Add spawn token generating spells to Storm in older formats and things could get out of hand fast. If you have ramping upwards cycles of spawn makers, you can cast devastating chains of spells, reclaiming the spawn to make more, until a finale. The only way to combat this is to make things cost more. Sadly, this is likely to be applied to most of the set.

    Justin:
    More bang for your buck. This card plays into M.J. Flores’s “Grand Unifying Theory of Magic.” (More info: Zvi’s original response and a recent post on Five with Flores) 5 mana to off an opposing creature and get 2 bodies that store mana is strong.

    Mnemonic Wall, Rise of the Eldrazi
    Mnemonic Wall, Rise of the Eldrazi

    Dillon:
    Mnemonic Wall has a lot of potential. It reminds me of Nucklavee, which usually targeted Cruel Ultimatum and Cryptic Command. Right now there aren’t powerful enough instants and sorceries in blue to target.

    It can’t target Planeswalkers which would have been a bit plus. It also doesn’t have flying which is a bit hit to it. It is a card I feel that will see play, but just not right now. It targeting a Martial Coup is awesome, but you are usually winning after you resolve one anyway. It can’t get you an Oblivion Ring, but it can get you back a Treasure Hunt. It is obviously useful, but not right now.

    Justin:
    Recurring key instants is always huge so the cc price tag doesn’t put me off in the slightest. I think that blue EDH decks will make room for this guy. Don’t forget that Æther Tradewinds is out there to have fun with.

    Mike:
    If there’s a really strong instant or sorcery in limited I could see this being playable. But, in control decks right now, most people are not playing any creatures that will make an opponent’s removal “Live.” This card doesn’t accomplish that, and drawing into cruel ultimatum is just as good as regrowthing it most of the time.

    Sean:
    It feels to me like this guy is costed at 5 mana to be ‘safe’. At 4 mana I expect he would be pretty good, but at 5 he is just limited filler. Izzet Chronarch was a reasonable popular card in casual formats so I expect the Wall will be too.

    James:
    Hmm, I like this for Urzatron and Gifts Ungiven plans. Flying would have made that a little too strong I guess. Shrowd would make it a lot better. Nonetheless, I really had fun playing with Gifts Ungiven decks and the idea of this fitting in well is tantalizing.

    Mike:
    Totem armour seems extremely strong; if they make anything low cost I could see it being a real player.

    These are all really expensive, I wonder if anything in the set will cost less than 5 haha.

    James:
    If we do get a reprint of Uraz’s lands, or a new variation of them as we saw with Cloudpost, that would be really helpful.

    Rob:
    Totem Armor will depend solely on casting cost as to whether it will be good or not. If I can armor a guy up when you don’t have mana for removal yet, then I just got a toy and a free regeneration shield. I think the Mammoth would have made more sense with Trample than Vigilance, but it also seems out of place flavor-wise in White too, so I digress. Also, how innovative will they get with the Totem Armor? Could we get one with Flash? Gives a Creature Regenerate? Enchant Creature or Land so that your man-lands can have a bonus and be safe from LD/Removal?

    Justin:
    All in all I think that most of these will be good in Limited. EDH will love the wall and any Kozilek decks will want Pathrazer. If the big mana Eldrazi thing sticks I don’t think it will make an immediate impact on our current super-fast standard.

    Worldwake Set Review – Red

    Time to look at some red cards. If you’re just tuning in, we’ve broken the new Worldwake cards into colors and given you our initial reactions to them. I will evaluate each card with an eye toward limited play with an occasional word about EDH or eternal formats. My colleague James will gear his comments more toward constructed formats like standard and extended. To read the series from the beginning, start with our white review, here.

    Tally ho!

    Akoum Battlesinger
    1R
    Creature – Human Berserker Ally
    1/1
    Haste
    Whenever Akoum Battlesinger or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Ally creatures you control get +1/+0 until end of turn.
    Rarity: Common

    I like this global pump ally. It’s a more fleeting kind of ability than the counter based allies, but this should help fill out an aggressive ally build for sure. A nifty common.

    JAMES

    As I’ve mentioned a few times through out the set reviews (white, Blue and black), I don’t see Allies being much of a powerhouse. They’re generally “meh” so for the time being I’m going to forgo looking at Allies cards from a constructive perspective–at least unless something really catches my eye. The time frame for constructing a kick-ass Standard/Type 2 build using Allies is just not within the scope of these reviews. One avenue worth examining is whether Boros Bushwacker could be converted over to an Allies deck (at least partially)…

    Bazaar Trader
    1R
    Creature – Goblin
    1/1
    {T}: Target player gains control of target artifact, creature or land that you control.
    Illus. Matt Cavotta
    Rarity: Rare
    Set Number: #72/145

    Well, I’m immediately reminded of Trix, a notorious deck that used Donate on Illusions of Grandeur as its kill. I’m not sure what the best thing would be to use this ability on in recent times. Abyssal Persecutor, also from Worldwake seems cute, but not very good, really. Immortal Coil? Donate your Platinum Angel…. no wait! Maybe you donate your Platinum Angel to the guy who controls Abyssal Persecutor! Then what? I’m getting sidetracked here. In limited, I can’t think of a reason you’d activate this either. Maybe I’m missing something huge, but I think this is the Steamflogger Boss rare of Worldwake, only for limited you don’t even get a hill giant, but rather an anemic bear I’d probably not play in my monored deck.

    JAMES

    why would I want to do something like this? I am writing this review through a fog of [what I hope is] a 24 hour flu but I’m not seeing this. Maybe I’m just a selfish player but I can’t think of a card that if I gave it to my opponent, he/she would lose…so wtf would I want to do this for?

    Bull Rush
    R
    Instant
    Target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
    Rarity: Common

    Well, it’s an okay trick I guess, but it’s definitely nothing flashy. Seems old fashioned. I like its simplicity, which is has in spades, and doesn’t have much else.

    JAMES

    At least it only costs R is all I can think of. There are so many better cards for constructed that deal two points of damage and have more flexiblity than this.

    Chain Reaction
    2RR
    Sorcery
    Chain Reaction deals X damage to each creature, where X is the number of creatures on the battlefield.
    Illus. Trevor Claxton
    Rarity: Rare

    Holy smokes! Say hello to one of the chase rares, folks. Feels a lot like a red Wrath of God, doesn’t it? Can’t praise this more than that. This is a global sweeper, and is an extremely strong card in limited. But sometimes it will be a lame pyroclasm, so it’s not quite the same as WoG. But for most intents and purposes, it’s a red wrath. Very cool.

    JAMES

    This is pretty sicko. A new varition on a Day of Judgement for red. Mass removal at 4cc is typically played extensively across a number of formats. I’ll wager this makes SB for Type 2 decks like mono-red burns (to bring in against Vamps and Jund). This is the kind of card that completely reverses the card advantage-nature brought about by Bloodbraid Elf, Sprouting Thrinax, Broodmate Dragon, and Gatekeeper of Malakir. I can also see this in the U/W/r control decks as another way of punishing players for over extending. That is [card]Wall of Denial[card] will likely sitck around (x/6 butt is huge) while the opposing players entire force will be reset. Hawt card.

    Claws of Valakut
    1RR
    Enchantment – Aura
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature gets +1/+0 for each Mountain you control and has first strike.
    Rarity: Common

    A strong aura. I have an aversion to auras because I love snagging someone in a 241 by killing their dude in response to their aura, or just killing it whenever with an aura like this that doesn’t shield the creature. Also, I don’t like having to carefully play around this pitfall when I’m the one wielding the aura… I often fail and fall in the 241 pit. So I have this aversion. But… this is the kind of aura that CAN be an exception in some narrow circumstances. In a very quick monored or similar deck, especially with evasive creatures, this can be the nail in the coffin. As your opponent struggles to keep up with your early pressure, you’ll have an opening sooner or later to confidently lay this on an evasive guy, and get in for serious damage. Anyway, this is usually not my bag, but I’ve seen it done to great effect, and if I’m in fast monored, I’ll definitely try one of these.

    JAMES

    Pretty interesitng. If you can plop this on a creature with at least an x/4 butt this could be nasty. I can’t think of many auruas that see play–and the reason is obvious: auraus go to the graveyard if hte creature dies–contrasted with equipments that stick around. (ahem, Mr Obvious). So while probably a good play for a mono-Red play in limited it’s not that great for constructed. Too bad it’s not +x to toughness where x equals the nuber of non basics you control. that would be slick.

    Comet Storm
    XRR
    Instant
    Multikicker {1} (You may pay an additional {1} any number of times as you cast this spell.)
    Choose target creature or player, then choose another target creature or player for each time Comet Storm was kicked. Comet Storm then deals X damage to each of them.
    Illus. Jung Park
    Rarity: Mythic Rare

    I like comet storm, but I am of the opinion that banefire is superior. This is not germane to the discussion of limited, in which this card is hands down bonkers nuts, and I’m glad it’s a mythic. Fireball type effects that can dome or is creatures are already sick in limited, and ones that can do both are fantastic. Ones that can potentially hit several creatures AND dome for a significant amount later on? Well, that’s just nutty. Comet storm does have speed issues, but this is Zendikar, home of landfall and 19 land limited decks that curve out at 3. I mean, you’ll have a chance to do stupid things with this. Or, hopefully, you’ll just need the one target, amirite?! Love comet storm.

    JAMES

    Well, let’s see. 8cc to deal 5 damage to a Baneslayer Angel and 5 to an opponent. On the low-end it’s pretty cheap to knock out a bunch of creatures–it’s cheaper than Fireball at least that is massively epxensive to hit multiple creatures with any real affect. Anyway, this is a good card. I’d not be surpised to this going into a Mono-Red Burn deck as a 1-2x or a x/R-control style deck that needs more kill outlets late game, such as Crypt of Agadeem powered deck. (not really controlling, I know, but it came to mind as a “big mana” deck).

    Cosi’s Ravager
    3R
    Creature – Elemental
    2/2
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Cosi’s Ravager Servant deal 1 damage to target player.
    Rarity: Common

    I’m not that pumped about this. This is too expensive for a piddly 2/2 that has a cute ability that won’t hit creatures. Nope, I don’t dig it.

    JAMES

    It’s aight. Not going to be very good in constructed.

    Crusher Zendikon
    2R
    Enchantment – Aura
    Enchant land
    Enchanted land is a 4/2 red Beast creature with trample. It’s still a land.
    When enchanted land is put into a graveyard, return that card to its owner’s hand.
    Rarity: Common

    Teetering Peaks, your time has come my friend.” TP: “I’m a real boy!” Sorry, Pinocchio reference. Yeah, I’m not into the red one as much as the blue and black ones so far. Still interested to see how this gets put to use.

    JAMES

    Lol @ Joe. Anyway, these aura series are okay. I mentioned liking the blue variation and I’ll stand by that being the most likely to see play.

    Cunning Sparkmage
    2R
    Creature – Human Shaman
    0/1
    Haste
    {T}: Cunning Sparkmage deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
    Rarity: Uncommon

    Yeah, this guy’s got the goods. Very nice. He’s even better than Vulshok Sorcerer, IMO, since the one power isn’t relevant on a pinger / timmy, and the extra R made the sorcerer less spashable. But a haste pinger is always superb.

    JAMES

    I don’t THINK this is good enough. I like pingers and a hasty pinger is definitly better. I just don’t think it’s good enough. I guess I have to ask myself, “If this guy/gal cost 5cc and did 2 damage, I would say, Yeah!” but as it is now, only 1 damage isn’t enough. I guess I just can’t think of a deck where I’d rather play the pinger over a straight up burn spell…

    Deathforge Shaman
    4R
    Creature – Ogre Shaman
    4/3
    Multikicker {R}
    When Deathforge Shaman enters the battlefield, it deals damage to target player equal to twice the number of times it was kicked.
    Rarity: Uncommon

    Pop Quiz: how many times do you have to multi-kick Deathforge Shaman before it is more efficient than a Comet Storm to the dome? You might be surprised to hear that a Deathforge Shaman multikicked four times (total mana cost 4R + RRRR or CMC 9 is more efficient than comet storm for X = 7, also costing 9, and the efficiency then grows in favor of the shaman. Kicked only three times, the two spells are equally efficient, costing 8 and doing 6 damage. This is all providing you have tons of red mana, as this multikicker requires. Plus Comet Storm is removal too, I’m just pointing out that this guy can be every bit as much of a late game neutron bomb laser beam as any X spell of old, and a 4/3 ain’t shabby either. I dig this guy.

    JAMES

    Cool. I like Joe’s breakdown actually. Need a LOT of mana to get it going but you do have the creature too. Neat. I’ll bet it’s too expensive as a 5 drop but the concept of a 1x is interesting. But building decks with a bunch of 1x’s is for the EDH crowd. ;-) What I mean is, this is too expensive for constructed play.

    Dragonmaster Outcast
    R
    Creature – Human Shaman
    1/1
    At the beginning of your upkeep, if you control six or more lands, put a 5/5 red Dragon creature token with flying onto the battlefield.
    Rarity: Mythic Rare
    Set Number: #81/145

    Yowza yowza. Okay, so this seems totally crazed. Than goodness this is a vulnerable 1/1! I think if you even get one dragon out of him, you’re looking just swell. Man. I’d definitely run him and I think I’d splash him as my only red card if I see him but aren’t playing red. “Used all your removal yet? Let’s find out.” It’s a must kill removal bait if nothing else. And if they don’t have such, you just won the game for sitting there and then tapping a mountain. This is the kind of thug that makes removal king of limited.

    JAMES

    Ultimately the issue I have the 1-drops that do amazing things (like Scut Mob) is that they are seriously vulnerable and you don’t have much incentive or playing them early game. And Red decks don’t like have 6 mana on the table. That means they missed a copule of burn spells or the opponent was able to stablize and the game state is swinging toward the red burn deck ‘never’ winning. There is the off-hand chance that this makes an excellent SB option for Red that (as I just said) has serious issues digging out of late game states…Testing will tell.

    Goblin Roughrider
    2R
    Creature – Goblin Knight
    3/2
    Rarity: Common

    Well you can’t be strictly better than gray ogre and be less interesting than this, I think. Still, not bad stats for a vanilla guy.

    JAMES

    Nothing here.

    Grotag Goblin Thrasher
    4R
    Creature – Lizard
    3/3
    Whenever Grotag Goblin Thrasher attacks, target creature can’t block this turn.
    Rarity: Common

    Yeah, I like this. I’ll wait a turn and pay more for my hill giant for this. Very cool.

    JAMES

    WAAAY to expensive for contsructed.

    Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
    3RR
    Legendary Creature – Ogre Warrior
    5/4
    Whenever a creature under an opponent’s control attacks you, put a 3/3 red Ogre creature token onto the battlefield unless that creature’s controller pays {3}.
    Rarity: Rare

    Hey, not bad! Swell body for the cost, and maybe an ogre here and there. More likely you staunch much of their attacks until they can kill this. Also, this is a dud EDH general.

    JAMES

    Very freaking interesting. Very. The general stats are good enough to warrant a look. My biggest hestiation is that it costs 5cc and doens’t “mana-sap” your opponent enough. There are plenty of deadly two drops like Putrid Leech that will take this bad boy out. I guess that means I don’t see this being a constructed staple.

    Mordant Dragon
    3RRR
    Creature – Dragon
    5/5
    Flying
    {1}{R}: Mordant Dragon gets +1+0 until end of turn.
    Whenever Mordant Dragon deals combat damage to a player, you may have it deal that much damage to a creature that player controls.
    Rarity: Rare

    5/5 flier for 6 is damn good in limited, and this one pumps and represents long term reusable removal. This is a house in limited, in short.

    JAMES

    Cool dragon. It’s no Broodmate Dragon but it acts as a piece of flying removal too. That’s pretty cool. Red Deck Wins style decks should toy around with this. I know it seems expensive but being able to knock out creatures is nothing to scoff at. It’s an “investment” play. That is, you’re investing in next turn removal. Maybe too risky in the end but DAMN worth experimenting with.

    Quest for the Goblin Lord
    R
    Enchantment
    Whenever a Goblin enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Quest for the Goblin Lord.
    As long as Quest for the Goblin Lord has five or more counters on it, creatures you control get +2/+0.
    Rarity: Uncommon

    Well, I dunno about this one. How many goblins are there? Torch slinger. Goblin shortcutters. I’m not sure you can get enough of them to make this even go active. Even if you did… well, I guess if you did it’s still a constant trumpet blast, which is good, I’m just highly skeptical about how consistently this will go active.

    JAMES

    Luckily there are enough very good goblins that this might be doable. Goblin Guide, Warren Instigator, Siege Gang Commander. Hmmm…Probably a playble goblin I’m forgetting. I don’t like this card as a main strategy but the only way to use it reliably is to play it as a 4x. Hmm, what does everyone else think? Too dependent on other goblins to make it worth it?

    Ricochet Trap
    3R
    Instant – Trap
    If an opponent cast a blue spell this turn, you may pay {R} rather than pay Ricochet Trap’s mana cost.
    Change the target of target spell with a single target.
    Illus. Jaime Jones
    Rarity: Uncommon
    Set Number: #87/145

    I’ve always been a sucker for Deflection type spells, so I’m already in love with this spell, even at full price. The discount against blue is a tradition dating back to Red Elemental Blast. This is an awesome spell, in my opinion, and it’s a particularly insulting subtype of 241 interaction when you send your opponent’s removal spell back at their own hapless minion. I love this. Don’t forget that this spell is effectively “counter target counterspell-like spell with a single target” or something along those lines, because you can use this spell to change the target of a counterspell, cancel, flashfreeze, etc. that’s on the stack to target Ricochet Trap instead. This is a largely unknown use of these spells… I’ve seen people punt on this in the past, so know the trick!

    JAMES

    I’m trying to remember the rules around Cruel Ultimatum and whether you can swing this at the opponent’s dome. For some reason I remember it doesn’t work that way because it’s “target opponent” and (baring not a multiplayer game), you’re the only opponent so it resolves on you anyway. If I’m completely about that ruling then this is great. But I’m 99% sure I’m right. [Sad Face].

    Roiling Terrain
    2RR
    Sorcery
    Destroy target land, then Roiling Terrain deals damage to that land’s controller equal to the number of land cards in that player’s graveyard.
    Rarity: Common

    This looks like fun. In a lot of games, this will actually Lightning Bolt your opponent or better after nuking their land. Between fetchlands and extra lands being discarded and the land you kill with the spell itself, 3 seems like about the upper limit for limited. In constructed formats, this could be a nice 4-slot land destruction spell, since it doubles as burn and will do much more in those formats. I like it in limited simply because LD spells, even as late as turn 4, will punish most mis-step draws an opponent might have. If they miss one of the first four land drops and you don’t and you cast this spell… well, that should be game over right there in a majority of such games. Therefore, this definitely has a place at the table.

    JAMES
    This could be sort of interesting. There are a lot of fetch-based mana builds. The question is, Is removing one of your opponents lands (knocking them back a turn, granted) AND doing maybe…3 damage worth 4cc? I don’t think it’s enough. Wouldn’t a Red mage rather cast something like Hells Thunder AND have mana left for an EOT Lightning Bolt? That’s 7 damange for the same 4cc. Plus, what type of player are we doing this to? Vamps is going to scoff at your play because of the low mana curve–same for Boros and mirror Red burn. I think Jund and U/W/x are the most vulnerable to this card. It may be worth taking Jund off color–that is destroying their only green source for example. But then it’s likely you’re only doing 1 damage (they don’t run a lot of fetches…only 4x Verdant Catacombs). Yeah, I guess this is a “no” conculsion.

    Rumbling Aftershocks
    4R
    Enchantment
    Whenever you cast a kicked spell, you may have Rumbling Aftershocks deal damage to target creature or player equal to the number of times that spell was kicked.
    Rarity: Uncommon

    Nice. This could potentially sneak into a weird mini-archetype of its own creation. There’s enough multikicker spells, it seems, to have a deck that can consistently mutlikick a spell or two in the late game. But this doesn’t do anything “on its own” which is usually the hallmark of bad spells for limited. Still, I think if the critical mass is there, you might get away with this. Enchantment removal is seldom maindecked, and you can always play mind games in game 2, siding this out if it’s your main or only enchantment. This is a very narrow, unlikely deck to succeed with, but I still think it might be fun to try. For 90%+ of situations in limited, I would advise you avoid this card.

    JAMES

    Barfy, do-nothing spell.

    Searing Blaze
    RR
    Instant
    Searing Blaze deals 1 damage to target player and 1 damage to target creature that player controls.
    Landfall – If you had a land enter the battlefield under your control this turn, Searing Blaze deals 3 damage to that player and 3 damage to that creature instead.
    Rarity: Common

    I like this spell, reminiscent of Lash Out. Ironically, the place I want this most outside of limited is a dedicated burn deck, the mirror match of which happens to make this the worst card in your deck, as you have to have an opposing creature to target in order to cast this thing. Anyway, that’s irrelevant to limited, where this will almost always be two lightning bolts on one card with the requirement that you hit one creature with the first bolt and dome them with the other. Sounds good to me.

    JAMES

    Proably good enough for limited…but even there I think “one damage isn’t shit.” I’d say “yes” if it was 2 damage divided as you choose between any number of creatures or players. Alas, it is not and you’re stuck doing an amazing 1 damage each for 2 red. It is good against Mirror Red burns where the player is running x/1 tramplers like Ball Lightning…I guess I really don’t like this. Seems too underwhelming to me.

    Skitter of Lizards
    R
    Creature – Lizard
    1/1
    Multikicker {1}{R} (You may pay an additional {1}{R} any number of times as you cast this spell.)
    Haste
    Skitter of Lizards enters the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it for each time it was kicked.
    Illus. Warren Mahy
    Rarity: Common

    Yet again we have a 1/1 that can be a gray ogre or a bad hill giant or an even worse… uh… 7-drop 4/4? Anyway, this is all helped by the haste in this case, making the 1/1 version a Raging Goblin, and the 2/2 version a Goblin Chariot, and the others…. well, the other versions are hasty, put it that way. I’m not sure there are historical antecedents. This is among the best representatives of this cycle so far, I’d say. I’m happy to play this guy in fast red decks.

    JAMES

    Weak sauce just like the whole cycle.

    Slavering Nulls
    1R
    Creature – Goblin Zombie
    2/1
    Whenever Slavering Nulls deals combat damage to a player, if you control a Swamp, you may have that player discard a card.
    Rarity: Uncommon

    Not bad. It’s the right bear body for the money, and will sometimes nuke a slow opponent in the style of Ravenous Rats or some such. I think this has a lot going for it. What’s with the (mono)red zombie? That’s a Magic first, from what I can tell (not counting Changelings). Am I missing something? This one gets the nod, but barely. I’d rather have Goblin Shortcutter, for example.

    JAMES
    Turn three could be pretty brutal if you get hit with a Blightning AND this guy. In the black review, there was also a discard outlet I liked. (Bloodhusk Ritualist) Maybe R/B running this guy, blightning, bloodhusk ritualist, quest for the nihil stone, and good ol’ Hypnoic Specter could be good. Backed up with the standard suite of Lighning Bolts and Burst Lightnings and a Bloodcheif Assension???

    Stone Idol Trap
    5R
    Instant – Trap
    Stone Idol Trap costs {1} less to cast for each attacking creature.
    Put a 6/12 colorless Construct artifact creature token with trample onto the battlefield. Exile it at the beginning of your next end step.
    Rarity: Rare

    Holy crud! 6/12? Twelve? Really? I can see this costing 2R a lot of times. It’s going to kill something, so it’s a decent removal spell, but then it also is going to either kill something else, soak a removal spell, or smash your opponent for upwards of 6 damage. So yeah, I think this is knocking on the door of Bomb country for limited.

    JAMES

    I’ve seen extended Doran, the siege tower decks running blue for counter magic but I wonder if against the Zoo decks this is better than blue. Probably not but it is a good stabalizer…Just don’t want to pull this off a Dark Confidant. I REALLY don’t like only getting the one chance to swing with it but it needed to be balanced I guess. Hmm, that was really the only immediate application I saw but in standard this is also viable. The trample makes it huge. I’m on the fence.

    Tuktuk Scrapper
    3R
    Creature – Goblin Artificer Ally
    2/2
    Whenever Tuktuk Scrapper or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may destroy target artifact. If that artifact is put into a graveyard this way, Tuktuk Scrapper deals damage equal to the number of Allies you control to that artifact’s controller.
    Rarity: Uncommon
    Set Number: #94/145

    Interesting. Definitely gets played in allies, where critical mass is uber important. This will usually not hit a lot of artifacts though… I’m thinking 1-2 on the high side. Still, there are a couple of really annoying artifacts, and this uncommon helps allies combat them with little lost opportunity cost. I like it okay, even though it’s a very vulnerable 2/2.

    JAMES

    I like the idea of destroying a Trusty Machete but that’s limited. I don’t think this will see much play in any format outside limited.

    As always we want to hear what you think. Did we miss anything? Are we completely off base on any of our comments? Let us know in the comments! :)

    Zendikar Card Review batch 04 (249/249)

    Welcome to the fourth and final batch of Zendikar preview cards.  We’d like to take a moment to thank the tireless folks at mtgsalvation for their work on the spoilers we’ve all come to know and love.

    Below you’ll find the first impression, knee-jerk reactions of myself and my teammate James, upon seeing these cards for the first time.  As usual, James is focused on constructed formats, specifically block, standard, and extended, while I evaluate the cards in the paradigm of limited, with a smattering of commentary related to EDH and legacy.  Without further ado, here come the cards!

    Bold Defense – 2W
    Instant (Common)
    Kicker {3}{W}
    Creatures you control get +1/+1 until end of turn. If Bold Defense was kicked, those creatures get +2/+2 and first strike instead.

    JOE

    This is a good execution of the kicker mechanic.  The card has a decent ability, but at a slightly increased mana cost than you’d usually find, in this case, we can compare the card to glorious charge.  In exchange for this nerfed initial ability, you get a card that doesn’t lose as much relevance in the late game.  When you top-deck this card later on, when you actually have seven mana, suddenly it’s a much more powerful combat trick.  This is a well rounded trick and will be commonly seen in white decks lacking harder removal.

    JAMES
    I don’t see this being good enough. I’d rather just play Glorious Charge and have some mana left open for 2nd main phase shenanigans–or more Attack phase shenanigans like a Harms Way. That being said, I haven’t run Glorious Charge in any constructed decks…maybe I should! That’d give me a better benchmark on this card. My gut tells me Bold Defense is just over-costed for the affects.

    Caravan Hurda – 4W
    Creature – Beast (Common)
    Lifelink
    1/5

    JOE

    This creature’s raison d’etre is to stall the ground while your fliers and other evasive creatures push through the winning damage.  Creatures like this epitomize what’s known loosely as a “skies” archetype, traditionally found in the UW color combination.  A 1/5 lifelink is a real bummer for an opposing green mage whose early drops become less appealing.  He does what he does, and that’s great.  Just don’t mistake the deck he belongs to.  This guy is out of place in a curve-conscious aggro white deck, but at home with a slower, more controlling WU skies type deck.

    JAMES
    Seems great for limited but the 5cc for constructed is underwhelming.
    comment

    Cliff Treader – 1W
    Creature – Kor Scout (Common)
    Mountainwalk
    2/1

    JOE

    He’s not a bad grizzly bears kind of guy… 2-drop with 2 power.  This cost and power define the white aggro decks, and some limited formats in general.  He’s randomly superb against red opponents, but will often be maindecked just because his power and CMC are right for your curve.

    JAMES
    I like this for constructed, SB in particular. I really wish it was Pro-Red because it would be some serious SB-beats against a red deck. Mountainwalk just isn’t enough; oh well…

    Kor Duelist – W
    Creature – Kor Soldier (Uncommon)
    As long as Kor Duelist is equipped, it has double strike.
    1/1

    JOE

    An interesting card.  He seems to be an improvement upon boros swiftblade, a card which was always suited up anyway.  I’m guessing he’s got more applications in constructed, but will occasionally make an appearance in limited as well.  Again, this is a card with a proper home.  His proper home is the aggro archetypes, and obviously he’s more appealing with a trust machete or whatnot.  Every so often, you might run him sans equipment if your curve really wants to be as low as possible.

    JAMES
    Umezawas Jitte and Sword of Fire and Ice really like this guy. He’s so cheap. Too bad the stack-in-combat’s been removed. Previously we could have removed charge counters from the Jitte after the firststrike damage was done, and pumped our guy to keep him around (and do more damage) during ‘normal combat damage.’ Alas, we’re stuck with the current rules [probably perpetually from here on out--or so we should assume]. What sort of stinks is that he’s pretty conditional and equipments do cost a fair bit of mana to get going. The only equipment I could see effective on a creature like this is the Bone Saw which you could play and equip without too much disruption to your normal curve-creature-drop. Behemoth Sledge is also on-color and would offer considerable tempo but it wouldn’t come into play until at least turn 4. In the end, I’m trying to keep an open mind about this creature but my main concern is that activating the doublestrike requires quite the investment. I mean, let’s face it; the two equipments I cited (Jitte & Sword) are a couple of the best equipments printed thus far, so they’re for the most part good on any creature. Doh, I guess I have to say “nope, not good enough.”

    Landbind Ritual – 3WW
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    You gain 2 life for each Plains you control.

    JOE

    Lifegain, though more popular now than perhaps ever, has never been my cup of tea.  I can’t see running this card in limited, nor constructed.  However, I’m a bad person to ask about this card.  I suppose it’s capable of gaining you 10 life for 5 mana under ideal conditions.  Some people may think that’s worth it… I just don’t.  I’d much rather have a card which advances my board position or reduces my opponent’s.

    JAMES
    I don’t see lifegain as worth it unless it changes the board state. As it is, gaining life just to gain life isn’t worth it. If you’re dying, just play the new Day of Judgment and reset the board. I mean, Kitchen Finks is so awesome because you’re gaining life on top of presenting an efficient beat-stick (with persist which is just amazing). This does nothing of the sort…

    Makindi Shieldmate – 2W
    Creature – Kor Soldier Ally (Common)
    Defender
    Whenever Makindi Shieldmate or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Makindi Shieldmate.
    0/3

    JOE

    I’m none too stoked about the Defender ability on this guy.  He’ll be played to attain a critical mass of allies at times, but I sure would rather have more copies of the blue ally with the same ally-ability, only having flying rather than defender and starting as a 1/1 rather than an 0/3.  That common ally will be nuts.  This one is kind of a dud, but critical mass is critical mass.

    JAMES
    Boo.

    Noble Vestige – 2W
    Creature – Spirit (Common)
    Flying
    {T}: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target player this turn.
    1/2

    JOE

    A forgettable spirit, this… Spirits are a creature type I’ve been following closely since creating my Ghost Council of Orzhova EDH deck.  I shall not be including this creature therein.  It does have evasion, which is a plus, though his ability is pretty weak.  Sometimes a 1/2 flier for 2W makes the cut, but I’m always hoping for better.

    JAMES
    Underpowered in a world of crazy goodness. Find a better creature. ;-)

    Pillarfield Ox – 3W
    Creature – Ox (Common)
    2/4

    JOE

    Ox?  Really?  A new creature type for Ox?  Not “Bovine” or something?  Meh.  “Mammal?”  Nope.  Ox.  Oh well.  Whatever.  This guy’s less exciting to me than hill giant, unless I desperately need another ground-staller in a skies deck.

    JAMES
    Not so horrible in limited but pretty boarderline. Probably a late pick but we should all be aiming for better 4 drops. I see no reason to include this in any constructed decks.

    Shieldmate’s Blessing – W
    Instant (Common)
    Prevent the next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.

    JOE

    Strictly worse than healing salve is not the kind of endorsement you’re looking for.  This card sucks ass, people.

    JAMES
    I can get behind this–exact opposite of Joe!!111!!! lol. It’s cheap and prevents all damage from a Lightening Bolt. I don’t see a reason for not playing this in limited where you can bluff or create a creature attrition situation. It’s one less than Harms Way but loses the ability to redirect. Because of that, I think Harm’s Way will remain the constructed include but I wouldn’t be all to surprised to see this in a constructed deck. It’s not the worst card in the world. What is the worst card in the world? I’m going to ask on Twitter now! lol

    Sunspring Expedition – W
    Enchantment (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Sunspring Expedition.
    Remove three quest counters from Sunspring Expedition and sacrifice it: Gain 8 life.

    JOE

    If you want lifegain, use this rather than Landbind Ritual.  If they use removal on this, consider it a success for you.  I won’t be playing this card.

    JAMES
    Same comment as on Landbind Ritual (above).

    Lethargy Trap – 3U
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If three or more creatures are attacking you, you may pay {U} rather than pay Lethargy Trap’s mana cost.
    Attacking creatures get -3/-0.

    JOE

    Not terrible, I guess.  You can sometimes get favorable combat exchanges, making trades your opponent accepts into pure losses, but this isn’t likely to make the cut in my decks either.  The trap cost will probably be turned on fairly often, but I still don’t feel very warm and fuzzy about the card.  If this is the level of trick you’re resorting to, is blue really that strong for you?

    JAMES
    This looks pretty good for an Esper-Control style deck. I’m not exactly sure if token-based decks will be around much longer but there’s certainly an opportunity for a Solider deck developing from the cards printed in M10 and Zendikar so being attacked by 3 creatures is all together possible. The trap cost makes it pretty sweet for U/Esper decks since it’s cheap and will leave room for casting Esper Charm @ EOT (for example). We’re entering a new Extended format where Zoo looks poised to make a strong finish. Zoo is essentially “the” aggro deck of the upcoming Meta and from discussions with Ben Lundquist this past Wednesday the Meta-cycle starts with a ‘big splash aggro deck’ [deck X] transitioning to a control-style deck [deck Y] and then decks geared to beat the control deck [deck Z]. From this POV, I say this looks good for people considering Fairies for the upcoming extended season where it’s likely to have 3 creatures attacking. Even the creation of a one-turn Fog for U can be enough for stabilization to occur. The single-Blue commitment for Trap/Non-Trap casting also makes it very splash-able.

    Merfolk Seastalkers – 3U
    Creature – Merfolk Wizard (Uncommon)
    Islandwalk
    {2}{U}: Tap target creature without flying.
    2/3

    JOE

    Whoa.  This is deceptively powerful.  Tapping a single creature makes for a solid utility creature.  Being able to tap multiples in the late game is fairly crazy.  The stats aren’t terrible either, given he has islandwalk.  This one gets a big nod.  Thumbs up.

    JAMES
    I don’t see how it’s goign to tap multiple creatures late game…What am I missing on this one? Anyway, tapping down creatures in limited is pretty good but I worry the cost is too high–its 300% the cost of Blinding Mage for example. From what we’ve seen of Merfolk in this set, I believe there are better options for constructed play.

    Seascape Aerialist – 4U
    Creature – Merfolk Wizard Ally (Uncommon)
    When Seascape Aerialist or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, Allies you control gain flying until end of turn.
    2/3

    JOE

    Cool… this is a great ally to build around.  Evasion is something a lot of allies lack.  Giddy up.

    JAMES
    Pretty interesting for an Ally. Since Allies all trigger off each other, we can assume we’re getting at minimum +1/+1 to our other allies. Swinging in with a big team of flying, pumped up creatures sounds good in my head but a lot of flop ideas sounded good in people’s heads and ended up being duds. (Spam comes to mind but that’s just me). Test it out for block, for shiz.

    Shoal Serpent – 5U
    Creature – Serpent (Common)
    Defender
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Shoal Serpent loses defender until end of turn.
    5/5

    JOE

    Serpents in blue are usually piss poor creatures that have some weird ability to seem appealing despite that fact.  Hmm… let’s see.  6-drop 5/5… not bad.  Sometimes attacks… I dunno.  I’m on the fence here.  Blue just usually doesn’t want to go in the fatty direction, though it will be easier to pair with green than ever.  I just think this ends up sitting the bench in favor of far better creatures more often than not, but it’s probably more playable than a lot of Serpents in the past.

    JAMES
    I got nothing.

    Spreading Seas – 1U
    Enchantment – Aura (Common)
    Enchant land
    When Spreading Seas enters the battlefield, draw a card.
    Enchanted land is an Island.

    JOE

    Almost never relevant, almost never played.  If you’re doing island walk shenanigans with this, you’ve probably failed a skill test somewhere in there.  At least this cantrips.  God willing, I’ll never play this card.

    JAMES
    It’s better than Seas Claim…if that means anything. lol.

    Bog Tatters – 4B
    Creature – Wraith (Uncommon)
    Swampwalk
    4/2

    JOE

    I’d say it’s a sideboard card against black at best.  4/2 is too dang vulnerable on 5.  No thanks.

    JAMES
    Might see play in limited, as Joe mentioned, restricted to SB where it would potentially shine. Otherwise, it’s way too expensive for its stats.

    Crypt Ripper – 2BB
    Creature – Shade (Common)
    Haste
    {B}: Crypt Ripper gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
    2/2

    JOE

    I like this Shade alright.  Haste is a nice ability in my book… it’s often what helps you swing the tempo race back into your favor.  Shades are decent in general, and this one has a decent cost.  Just look at loch korrigan.  I dunno… in some decks, I definitely run this dude, but it’s always when I’m heavy black (thank you Dr. Obvious).

    JAMES
    This wouldn’t be bad in a limited deck but I don’t think at 4cc it’s worth the affects for constructed. In its favor, here are the advantages: On turn 4 it’s a 2/2 Hasty (obviously). Late game (and this is what i mean by in “its favor”), it’s a hasty that you can pump for more damage–let’s say a 4/4 hasty. Not horrible. It is a threat in and of itself. Very, very borderline. I’d rather play the new Specter, Guul Draz Specter for 4cc. But that’s just me.

    Guul Draz Vampire – B
    Creature – Vampire Rogue (Common)
    As long as an opponent has 10 or less life, Gull Draz Vampire gets +2/+1 and has intimidate. (It can’t be blocked except by artifact creatures and/or creatures that share a color with it.)
    1/1

    JOE

    Looks like Wild Nacatl got bitten by a vampire or something.  This one’s solid and interesting.  The fact that he’s a piddly 1/1 early makes him far worse than nacatl, but later on, he’s the same size as the kitty cat, but with Intimidate, the new fear.  Evasion is nice, especially for little guys later in the game.  I think the vampire deck looks mighty sexy in this format.  We’ll see.

    JAMES
    Not horrible. It’s pretty decent mid-game and Intimidate might make this worth having 2x in a deck. I mean a 3/2 “fear” (which intimidate is in this case) for one is not bad. The casting cost lets us play another spell, it’s splash-able, etc. I see some advantages to this little common but probably restricted to block play.

    Hagra Crocodile – 3B
    Creature – Crocodile (Common)
    Hagra Crocodile can’t block.
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hagra Crocodile gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
    The creatures of Zendikar are opportunists, eating whatever is available to them. Like goblins. Or boats.
    3/1

    JOE

    5/3 on the attack for 4.  That’s good stats.  Fits into a suicidal black all-in kind of aggro deck.  Something about this guy doesn’t jive with my own style, but I definitely see him being played… paired with green to abuse landfall, this guy might well have a spot on 4.

    JAMES
    I see this in limited but not making it to constructed. I just see better 4-drops in Mono-Black (such as Vampire Nocturnus

    Heartstabber Mosquito – 3B
    Creature – Insect (Common)
    Kicker {2}{B} (You may pay an additional {2}{B} as you cast this spell.)
    Flying
    When Heartstabber Mosquito enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target creature.
    2/2

    JOE

    Playable / decent without kicker, and with late game relevance (and how!) due to the kicker ability.  This is a saweet common for black.  No holds barred creature destruction for 2B more?  Awesome.

    JAMES
    I wish the casting costs were reversed. It’s too pricey as a 4-drop. It’s also pretty dang expensive for a 7 drop. Probably not the worst card in limited but there are [again] better options for limited.

    Marsh Casualties – BB
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Kicker {3}
    Creatures target player controls get -1/-1 until end of turn. If Marsh Casualties was kicked, those creatures get -2/-2 instead.

    JOE

    Yet again, this is a good spell without kicker that gets better later on with the kick.  Building a deck around this will be easy, and sweepers like this card are often what win you the game.  I’m guessing this is a very high pick for anyone who opens a sweet black rare, and might draw other people into black too, if infest and the like are any kind of historical indicator.

    JAMES
    Not bad at 5cc since you can wipe the board but (obviously) Infest is WAY better.

    Mindless Null – 2B
    Creature – Zombie (Common)
    Mindless Null can’t block unless you control a Vampire.
    2/2

    JOE

    gray ogre with a drawback?  I’m only playing him in a very-heavy vampire deck.

    JAMES
    Nope. Not good enough.

    Nimana Sell-Sword – 3B
    Creature – Human Warrior Ally (Common)
    Whenever Nimana Sell-Sword or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Nimana Sell-Sword.
    “He asked if I had work for him. No wasn’t the right answer.”
    - Samila, Murasa Expeditionary House
    2/2

    JOE

    Hill Giant on his own means he’s playable with or without allies.  Obviously with allies is preferable, since he then helps critical mass and isn’t dead / weak on his own.  Top notch common ally here.

    JAMES
    I’m really not down with these expensive 3/3′s (and 2/2′s). I guess the “advantage” to these is the ally trigger but that’s soooooo situational. I’m a doubter.

    Surrakar Maurader – 1B
    Creature – Surrakar (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Surrakar Maurader gains intimidate until end of turn.
    2/1

    JOE

    Meh.  Bear-ish.  Bear-cub.  I’m not too stoked on him, but in aggro decks, you take bears and whatever evasion you can, even if it only works most of the time.

    JAMESDecent early game, dud late.

    Bladetusk Boar – 3R
    Creature – Boar (Common)
    Intimidate
    3/2

    JOE

    I guess for constant Intimidate, I’ll accept a loss of toughness off hill giant.  This one’s not bad.

    JAMES
    This is fine for limited but R wants more than this in constructed paly.

    Goblin Shortcutter – 1R
    Creature – Goblin Scout (Common)
    When Goblin Shortcutter enters the battlefield, target creature can’t block this turn.
    2/1

    JOE

    Interesting bear here too.  All these bears are right on the borderline between playable and “meh”, but the ones like this with a sometimes relevant ability are okay in certain decks.  Being a goblin helps his stock too.  I dunno… I play him sometimes, but he’s not among the first creatures I’m putting into deck slots.

    JAMES
    This is pretty good late game in limited when you want to squeeze a fatty through for the win or experiencing locked board positions. Off a Bloodbraid Elf this isn’t so bad–but hell, isn’t everything good off a Bloodbraid?

    Highland Berserker – 1R
    Creature – Human Berserker Ally (Common)
    Whenever Highland Berserker or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may have Ally creatures you control gain first strike until end of turn.
    2/1

    JOE

    This is an awesome early-drop ally, and an example of a bear I’d probably run unless he’s my only ally.  I’d usually rather have him than the shortcutter above unless I had some sick goblin deck going.

    JAMES
    This is a pretty good ally. I would figure to see this in block–but I’m not sure what colors will rule supreme for allies in block (and it’s DAMN early to call block cards since we’ve only got this first set out).

    Inferno Trap – 3R
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If you’ve been dealt damage by two or more creatures this turn, you may pay {R} rather than pay Inferno Trap’s mana cost.
    Inferno Trap deals 4 damage to target creature.

    JOE

    This is quite solid removal.  Probably a decently-high pick for red.

    JAMES
    Not bad, not bad. Two creatures might be asking a lot and you’re only removing one of them. Still in limited this might be a good play. I’d pick it up were I in-color.

    Magma Rift – 2R
    Sorcery (Common)
    As an additional cost to cast Magma Rift, sacrifice a land.
    Magma Rift deals 5 damage to target creature.

    JOE

    I don’t know what to make of this one.  The removal is good, since 5 damage will deal with a lot.  But the downside is huge, losing a land.  This will depend entirely on the curve of the deck in question.  If I want to get to 7 eventually, there’s no way I run this.  If I top out at 5, it’s a different story.

    JAMES
    Nah, that’s okay. Were it creature or player, I’d say we’ll see this in Austin as a mono-red include but as it is, this sucks.

    Mark of Mutiny – 2R
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Gain control of target creature until end of turn. Put a +1/+1 counter on it and untap it. It gains haste until end of turn.

    JOE

    Interesting.  This is a little worse than act of treason, since you hand the guy back slightly bigger.  Still, this will win you some games when played at the right moment.  And obviously, this is sick with any kind of creature sacrifice outlet.

    JAMES
    EEek. you better be winning with this or it’s toast for you. Gain control, put a counter on it, get your “damage in” and then hand them a bigger, better creature? No thank you.

    Molten Ravager – 2R
    Creature – Elemental (Common)
    {R}: Molten Ravager gets +1/+0 until end of turn.
    0/4

    JOE

    Not interested.  Good blocker, but yeah… I’m not into this kind of guy.

    JAMES
    Not horrible in limited. Not at all. Big ass means that your opponent has to block or risks you tempo-ing them out. It’s pretty cheap too at 3cc. I don’t see this making waves in constructed play though.

    Seismic Shudder – 1R
    Instant (Common)
    Seismic Shudder deals 1 damage to each creature without flying.

    JOE

    This will be really awesome as a splash card in flying-based decks.  As a sweeper, it will see play in a lot of decks, actually, but some red decks have too many X/1s themselves to be comfortable with this, so I’m guessing this sees the most play in decks that aren’t base-red.

    JAMES
    Doh, had a comment then re-read it. ‘Without flying’ is not the same as ‘With Flying.’ Pass.

    Shatterskull Giant – 2RR
    Creature – Giant (Common)
    4/3

    JOE

    Well hell, this is basically a better hill giant.  Paying R instead of 1 is a bargain for that extra point of power.  Playable as hell.

    JAMES
    Not good enough for constructed play.

    Slaughter Cry – 2R
    Instant (Common)
    Target creature gets +3/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn.
    “Since when did ‘AIIIEEEE!’ become a negotiation tactic?”
    - Nikou, Joraga bard

    JOE

    This is as removal-like as combat tricks can get.  It’s almost always going to kill a creature in combat, and every once in a while might steal a game in an alpha strike.  Good common.

    JAMES
    Great shenanigan card. Act like you’re chumping and then remove the creature? Not bad but probably not quite good enough for constructed play.

    Spire Barrage – 4R
    Sorcery (Common)
    Spire Barrage deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of Mountains you control.

    JOE

    seismic strike can only hit creatures, so that’s why this gem is 2 more.  I think it’s worth it in a base-red deck.  Lava axe has won me some games, and this is way more versatile, but every bit as capable of doing 5 to end the game.  This gets the nod (in red).

    JAMES
    Slightly too expensive for constructed play. It’s also conditional since you can’t really splash for this in constructed. For extended you don’t even want 5 mountains in play. That’s too many.

    Torch Slinger – 2R
    Creature – Goblin (Common)
    Kicker – {1}{R}
    When Torch Slinger enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, it deals 2 damage to target creature.
    2/2

    JOE

    Shades of Flametongue Kavu here.  This is gray ogre early, and lets you shock too later on.  solid.

    JAMES
    One more than Murderous Redcap and lacking in persist. Bummer.

    Joraga Bard – 3G
    Creature – Elf Rogue Ally (Common)
    Whenever Joraga Bard or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, all Allies you control gain vigilance until end of turn.
    1/4

    JOE

    Well, it’s none too exciting, but this is another ally to help attain that critical mass I keep talking about.  I’m guessing that you’ll be rolling if you have more than 6 allies, and a creature that’s worse than another but has the ally creature type will sometimes make the cut for that reason.  If you already have 6 other allies that are decent, I dunno… I still might play him.  It’d really depend on the other options there, but this won’t be among the first allies I line up for inclusion.

    JAMES
    Not the worst of the allies and far from the best.

    Tajuru Archer – 2G
    Creature – Elf Archer Ally (Uncommon)
    When Tajuru Archer or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, Tajuru Archer deals damage equal to the number of Ally creatures you control to target creature with flying.
    1/2

    JOE

    Whoa… this guy’s very cool.  A cheap ally which helps green-based ally decks combat their historical nemesis, fliers.  Good stuff.

    JAMES
    A great sb include for block-constructed going Allies. Ausser-dass, ich sehe nichts.

    Tanglesap – 1G
    Instant (Common)
    Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn by creatures without trample.

    JOE

    Weird.  Usually a fog, but in the color of trample, sometimes it’ll be more like safe passage or something.  Conditionally awesome, usually marginal.  I like my tricks to do more than buy me a turn most times.

    JAMES
    Weird. Definitely worth considering in a limited deck since as we’ve seen (or you should have seen) Safe Passage is very playable in limited. I don’t see the point in constructed.

    Timbermaw Larva – 3G
    Creature – Beast (Common)
    Whenever Timbermaw Larva attacks, it gets +1/+1 until end of turn for each Forest you control.
    2/2

    JOE

    Hmm… I guess he’s hill giant or better on the attack, but in exchange he’s vulnerable the rest of the time.  Probably has a time and place to shine.

    JAMES
    Sits around as a 2/2 but probably swings on T4 as a 4/4. (assuming dual-color decks). In mono-G, this is a pretty good beat stick. I just wish it was bigger than a 2/2. Maybe a 1/3 or something would make me feel safer. Otherwise, I feel like I’d be paying four for a creature that’s going to get zapped. Meh, just play Garruk Wildspeaker at the same casting cost.

    Vastwood Gorger – 5G
    Creature – Wurm (Common)
    5/6

    JOE

    Weak.  Not my thing, but occasionally necessary when you’re the fatty deck and lack enough fatties… but wait… why are you the fatty deck then?  I dunno… 5/6 is pretty beefy.  It might see play, but I’m guessing it’ll usually be reluctant play.

    JAMES
    Fine in limited since it’s obviously going to apply significant pressure. Not good enough for constructed.

    Zendikar Card Review Batch 02 (170 / 249)

    Welcome to batch two of the Zendikar preview season. We’ve got ~59 new cards or so to review today. As usual, these are knee-jerk reactions, in most cases, and we try to keep these reviews as much of a first impression as possible. With the exception of Lotus Cobra, previewed by our pal Mike Flores, we haven’t seen any of today’s cards yet.

    I’ll (Joe) be reviewing everything from a limited standpoint with occasional comments geared towards legacy and EDH, while James will default into evaluating the cards for constructed, particularly upcoming standard and block formats, though the latter is trickier than the former given the limited number of block cards known to date.

    Enjoy, and please chime in in the comments section! That’s what it’s there for.

    Brave the Elements – W
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Choose a color. White creatures you control gain protection from the chosen color until end if turn.

    JOE

    Neat little trick… should make for some favorable combat outcomes. This can be devastating soft-removal for a base-white archetype. Dr. Obvious says, “This card increases in value in direct proportion to the number of white creatures you have on board.” Thank you, Dr. Obvious.

    JAMES
    This is a pretty good card actually. –potentially not as good as the green version of this cycle (see below) but definitely a good card because it will hose your opponents’ attempts at 2 for 1′ing you. I’m thinking Volcanic Fallout for example, which is easily one of the best two-for-one’rs in Type2 right now. It’s also great for an alpha strike, if you’ve got lethal on board but some pesky blockers, here’s your chance to walk right on by and bash your opponent’s face in. The question becomes is this better than Harms Way? Probably; it just doesn’t have the advantage of redirecting that damage. It’s going to come down to testing so my recommendation is to test this card versus Harm’s Way.

    Conqueror’s Pledge – 2WWW
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Kicker {6}
    Put six 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield. If Conqueror’s Pledge was kicked, put twelve 1/1 white Kor Soldier creature tokens onto the battlefield instead.

    JOE

    Hmmm… you might occasionally play it for 5, in which case it’s a fair deal. You’ll likely never see 11 mana, so that’s slightly irrelevant. But as far as token-barfer cards, this is a good one. I’m guessing there are way better versions for constructed, such as martial coup.
    JAMES
    This seems pretty playable to me. At 5cc this is better than martial coup–martial coup is awesome at 7cc but because of that high cc, it’s more of a 2x. Well, I’m concluding this off experience with windswept heights which is rotating out so m.coup may get the bump. However, on a straight cc analysis, this is better than coup. At two more cc than spectral procession you get three more creatures so on a mana-efficiency level, this is a slight bump in efficiency. When B/W tokens was bashing face across the world, there were instances where Spectral Procession was played at 4cc, making this actually a bit more stable in the sense that you have two more turns to hit your third plains. The kicker does seem unlikely–and in all probability we’d probably rather see martial coup for 11 than Conqueror’s Pledge at 11 because you get the Wrath of God/Day of Judgment affect. Unfortunately it’s not as good as Cloudgoat Ranger which provides “that bigger body” as well as evasion. Tapping out on turn 5 to get Volcanic Fallout would be a kick to the nuts so it’s a tough call. I’ll probably sleeve this up post-Lorwyn in my G/W tokens…which very well may become mono-white. (Sigil Captain and even more so Dauntless Escort are very good).

    Emeria Angel – 2WW
    Creature – Angel (Rare)
    Flying
    Landfall—Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control,
    you may put a 1/1 white Bird creature token with flying into the battlefield.
    3/3

    JOE

    Check out that foily promo goodness… Look ma, no textbox! This is a Super-bomb in limited, and would be highly awesome even if all it did was fly, cost 4, and have 3 power and toughness. Barfing out other fliers makes this celestial being a killer. Incredible. Looks constructed worthy to me as well, but that’s not my forte. Hill giant is solid. Flying hill giant is superb. Flying bird-barfer hill giant is bombastic-fantastic with a Jamaican accent like Shaggy.

    JAMES
    This is definitely worth toying with. The cc at 4 may make it a bit tough to fit–for example, would we rather play the bird-producing angel or would we rather drop an Elspeth, Knight-Errant or Ajani Goldmane? Planeswalkers are pretty much self-contained entities making for fairly ideal on-curve plays. That being said, you’re well rewarded for playing this angel. I mean, what deck doesn’t want to play a fifth land? (besides burn decks which don’t count in this instance). I don’t see 5 Color Control sticking around in the same structure (losing Cryptic Command and Broken Ambitions really are too much) so we can’t even compare this to Baneslayer Angel as a potentially “earlier play.” The only control deck that comes to mind that as far as I’m aware isn’t getting completely gutted is the Grixis-Control deck which wouldn’t be running this. So it comes down to the MWC, White-Winnie & mid-range. As a mid-range deck, we can evaluate this on a comparative level with Knight of the Watch which w/ the landfall ability on Emeria Angel will produce the same number of 1/1s as the 7cc Knight (just one at a time rather than all at once). Under that analysis, this would be far more efficient. It’s a question of “flying” vs “vigilance”–flying is pretty much 10x better than vigilance imo. That all being said, this card seems playable.

    Kor Cartographer – 3W
    Creature – Kor Scout (Common)
    When Kor Cartographer enters the battlefield, you may search your library for a Plains card, put it onto the battlefield tapped, then shuffle your library.
    2/2

    JOE

    Well, a 4-drop doesn’t work too well as a fixer, so this is more of a mid-to-late accellerant. Not bad in that role, but a little pricey for a 2/2. I’m on the fence. I’d probably run him with enough early landfall cards that I want to double up on turn 4.

    JAMES
    If landfall is going to be as good as I think it probably will be, then this will play a marginal role. Due to the “get a plains” nature, I’m not sure it’s going to see play outside mono-white in Type2–if a player is dabbling in G which has lots of land-searchers, then Harrow is a better option. It is pretty pricey so I’m on the fence. Getting an extra land can be pretty dang helpful…

    Creature – Kor Soldier (Common)
    Flying
    When Kor Skyfisher enters the battlefield, return a permanent you control to its owner’s hand.
    2/3

    JOE

    Incredible. Amazing. Awesome. Okay, well, this is pretty snazzy… it’s only rarely going to be the ideal turn 2 drop though… but it’s awesome when you have a fair number of CiP abilities to abuse (see cartographer above). This lets you get double mileage out of CiP shennanigans, and leaves you with a highly respectable 2/3 flier, all for a piddly 1W. Very sweet common here. Soldier too!

    JAMES
    For a two drop this is certainly a pretty aggressive card but at this point I can only compare it to filling in a slot occupied by Honor of the Pure and Kazandu Blademaster (see our other post for a breakdown). Keeping my comparison cards in mind, if an ally deck is viable then this card will be the linchpin triggering all kinds of madness. And it’d be some serious madness but as a shenanigan-enabler, I would run it at 3x (hoping to draw into it mid-to late game…not in my opening hand). I’d expect an ally deck in Block but not so much in Type2; this card could end up being very interesting.

    Narrow Escape – 2W
    Instant (Common)
    Return target permanent you control to its owner’s hand. You gain 4 life.
    “Let’s get out of here”
    #27/249

    JOE

    Love it. This card sure weeps for the recent M10 rules changes though! “Damage on the stack…” er… not so much. But still a nice way to softly counter some removal! I’m confused by the flavor though… why the 4 life if it was a narrow escape? This is more like “Narrow Escape turned Awesome Boon….” like someone running away and tripping over a pot of gold or something… I dunno. I’d probably leave this one out of the deck if I could, as countering removal is kind of narrow. Lots of time this will be a do-nothing spell.

    JAMES
    I’m not so hot on this. Good game trick for limited where savign a creature from the graveyard and gaining 4 life might be viable. For constructed, I don’t see much room for this. [card]Brave the Elements[card] (above) seems 10x better to me, costing 2cc less and potentially saving the whole team.

    Shepherd of the Lost – 4W
    Creature – Angel (Uncommon)
    Flying, first strike, vigilance
    3/3
    #34/249

    JOE

    Awesome in limited. Simply awesome. This is highly playable, highly splashable. Great body, attacks and blocks, and all with first strike. Awesome fiver.

    JAMES
    Great for limited and then not so hot otherwise. As an uncommon it’s a rockstar in limited! At 5cc [card]Baneslayer Angel[card] is better for constructed. Like I said in the last batch of reviews, forever will B.A. be the benchmark…

    Hedron Crab – U
    Creature – Crab (Uncommon)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, target player puts the top three cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
    0/2

    JOE

    This is the waiting line for tryouts for the next sanity grinding combo deck. I have no clue whether he’ll make the cut there, but for limited, mill strategies are always about that critical mass. If you can land two or three of this guy (probably not) along with enough other mill cards (who knows?), then this could be viable. Otherwise, it’s a 15th pick kind of card.
    JAMES
    I don’t play mill and I’ve never lost to a mill deck…

    Into the Roil – 1U
    Instant (Common)
    Kicker {1}{U} (You may pay an additional {1}{U} as you cast this spell.)
    Return target nonland permanent to its owner’s hand. If Into the Roil was kicked, draw a card.

    JOE

    Love it. Should see play in limited, and maybe even that mill deck the crab above is trying out for? I dunno. The cantrip part is a little pricey, but it’s still going to be kicked a lot. This is a very decent soft removal spell.
    JAMES
    Tempo play in limited but I don’t see anything coming from this in constructed. Am I missing something?

    Kraken Hatchling – U
    Creature – Kraken (Common)
    “Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth.”
    0/4
    #50/249

    JOE

    I, Joe Klesert, do hereby swear never to play this card in any limited event, so help me God.
    JAMES
    LMAO. Really? A 0/4 wall is pretty okay in limited. It just doesn’t do anything in constructed. Or? Anyway, it for sure is marginally playable in limited for a slow-roll U/x deck that needs to stall the ground out to build up a threat. I mean, we play 1/4′s in limited for the sole purpose of stalling, so this at 1cc isn’t SOOOO bad. (Just don’t run more than 2 or you’ll be shitting 0/4′s for dinner).

    Living Tsunami – 2UU
    Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
    Flying
    At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice Living Tsunami unless you return a land you control to its owner’s hand.
    4/4

    JOE

    At least they didn’t call it “Tsunami Elemental” as they might have in the past. This is a huge enabler whose “drawback” is pretty much a pure upside. If you have no landfall cards, this is still a pretty decent deal. You get an undercosted air elemental, and if they stop it on the board, you just sac it the next upkeep. If you have landfall guys in play before him, he guarantees their activation every turn, which ain’t bad. In either case he’s playable, and with the right landfall cards, he’s outstanding. The only real risk is when you play him on-curve and never really get to access your 5-and-up-drops, so be somewhat weary… but I suspect this won’t be much of a problem.

    JAMES
    Well there. This will see play. So much landfall (such as Lotus Cobra–man, I’ve just been itching to get my way down to green) in Zendikar that not playing a [card]Air Elemental[card] that enables Landfall AND cost one less seems silly to me. This is an almost drawback free 4/4 with flying for 4cc. (Drawback free because of landfall y’all!)

    Merfolk Wayfinder – 2U
    Creature – Merfolk Scout (Uncommon)
    Flying
    When Merfolk Wayfinder enters the battlefield, reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all Island cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
    1/2

    JOE

    Hmm… funky. Flying 1/2 makes him decently costed. The benefit here is stocking yourself with Islands. This is a hard call in limited where you seldom run mono-colored decks. He’ll probably whiff a lot, but he’s still decent when you draw him early. I’m thinking he’s playable, but I’d want to be somewhat invested in a skies type flying archetype to run him.

    JAMES
    I don’t see this making the cut in constructed unless there’s a mono-U developing that I’ve completely missed.

    Reckless Scholar – 2U
    Creature – Human Wizard (Common)
    {T}: Target player draws a card, then discards a card.
    2/1
    #60/249

    JOE

    Not such a bad re-make of merfolk looter, since you get another point of power for your 1. Targeting other players probably won’t matter much… maybe the mill deck wants that, I dunno. I’d run this guy for sure though. Quite playable. Selection when you need it and a non-irrelevant body when you don’t.
    JAMES
    x/1′s don’t seem good enough. I mean, it’s not like it can block and then EOT draw a card. I’d rather have a 0/3 than a 2/1…Anyway, for the total cost this seems too expensive to see the light of day in constructed.

    Rite Of Replication – 2UU
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Kicker {5} (You may pay an additional {5} as you cast this spell.)
    Put a token that is a copy of target creature onto the battlefield. If Rite Of Replication was kicked, instead put five of those tokens onto the battlefield.
    Illus. Matt Cavotta
    #61/249

    JOE

    What in the holy hell!? Okay, with no kicker, this is a decent Clone remake, which makes it pretty solid. WITH kicker… this is ridiculous. I’m immediately thinking about lotus cobra here (see below)… you should be able to kick it without TOO much trouble with mr. snakey pants on board… and what would the world look like with 6 copies of Señor Snake? Holy crap!? Anyway, weirdness aside, this will be a middle-range rare, never going above $2-3 I’m guessing, but it’ll have these weird side uses. EDH decks would like to make 5 darksteel colossus tokens, for instance.
    JAMES
    This card is waiting to be broken. 9cc for 5 copies of say Baneslayer Angel or (even more devastating, auto-scoop styles) Broodmate Dragon is stupid.

    Tempest Owl – 1U
    Creature – Bird (Common)
    Kicker {4}{U} (You may pay an additional {4}{U} as you cast this spell.)
    Flying
    When Tempest Owl enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, tap up to three target permanents.
    1/2

    JOE

    Think of it mainly as a 2-drop 1/2 flier for limited. You’ll eventually be able to use him to tap remaining fliers or reach blockers for the alpha strike… that adds value. He’s playable in a skies archetype as a 2-drop 1/2 flier though. Decent early, decent late. Only disappointing right in the middle game period.. turn 4 or 5, for instance. Nice one.

    JAMES
    I’m not so hot on this one (thinking constructed). Tapping me down three permenants would be bomb-alicious if this had flash. Without it’s just a one-turn stall and you’re not going to get much from a 1/2…

    Trapfinder’s Trick – 1U
    Sorcery (Common)
    Target player reveals his or her hand and discards all Trap cards.
    #73/249

    JOE

    Hard to evaluate, but not impossible… I think even if there were four or five devastating traps, this is sideboard material for constructed AT BEST. But there’s likely only one or two awesome traps, and I think it’ll never be played. It’s so damn narrow. I doubt I will ever play this card.

    JAMES
    Unless trap all of a sudden becomes the shit, this isn’t anything to bother with. end line.

    Trapmaker’s Snare – 1U
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Search your library for a Trap card, reveal it, and put it into your hand.
    Then shuffle your libary.
    #74/249

    JOE

    Now this, on the other hand, I can almost guarantee I’ll play, though not necessarily in limited. If you have some bomby trap card, sure. It’s very marginal in limited, but may well see play in constructed formats. If there’s any decent traps, EDH likes this, as it’s easy to transmute for with muddle the mixture or fetch with merchant scroll, making the trap quite tutorable, if it’s compelling enough. Tutors are usually pretty good, and as Dr. Obvious might say, they’re better the more awesome targets they have.
    JAMES
    Not sure it would be worth losing a slot just to fetch my trap-cards. Depends on which trap we’re talking here. [card]Mindbreak Trap[card] (see other post) has a ton of potential and being able to nab it “when you need it” and then play it for zero (otherwise, why are you playing it?) is pretty sweet. But I’m not sure there are any other trap cards I’m just dying to play–plus that assumes your at least splashing U. Splashing U for access to trap cards on demand seems pretty weak sauce.

    ̠ther Figment Р1U
    Creature – Illusion (Uncommon)
    Kicker {3}
    Æther Figment is unblockable.
    If Æther Figment was kicked, it enters the battlefield with two +1/+1 counters on it.
    1/1
    Black(25)

    JOE

    2-drop 1/1 unblockable… I’m probably not playing it without some kind of equipment. 5-drop 3/3 unblockable… I’d get behind that! Especially so splashable. In the end, he’s playable, but will likely be dropped turn 5 more than turn 2, outside of equipment.dec.
    JAMES
    Not bad for limited. I don’t think it has the goods for constructed play. 5cc for the 3/3 is just a bit too pricey.

    Bloodchief Ascension – B
    Enchantment (Rare)
    At the beginning of each player’s end step, if an opponent lost 2 or more life this turn, you may put a quest counter on Bloodchief Ascension.
    Whenever a card is put into an opponent’s graveyard from anywhere, if Bloodchief Ascension has three or more quest counters on it, you may have that player lose 2 life. If you do, you gain 2 life.

    JOE

    Seems easy to enable it, and then the effect is immense. I’m ready to call this a bomb rare one-drop enchantment. They either answer it, or eventually take TONS of damage from it. It’s trivial to drop it, and doesn’t require you to do anything you wouldn’t already be doing in order to enable it. It does require you to have enough guys in the red zone though, so keep that in mind… this can’t take a creature slot or anything. I’m going to try to play this when I can though. Cards that cost 1 and potentially create 4, 6, 8, 10 point lifeswings and beyond… I’m down with that. I really am. Even with a 3-4 turn delay in the mix.

    JAMES
    Damn. This is stupidly good for a one-drop. It will see constructed play and it’s great for a R/B deck.

    Desecrated Earth – 4B
    Sorcery (Common)
    Destroy target land. Its controller discards a card.
    #86/249

    JOE

    Harsh but expensive. Probably sideboard for pesky nonbasic lands. It’s too expensive to be effective as an LD spell and only makes them discard one card, limiting its effectiveness there as well. People will probably sandbag lands more often in the landfall block I’m guessing.
    JAMES
    I don’t see this having the goods for constructed play. Not with cards likes Blightening or the new Hideous End.

    Disfigure – B
    Instant (Common)
    Target creature gets -2/-2 until end of turn.

    JOE

    Nothing wrong with this cheap removal spell. Weakness, eat your heart out.

    JAMES
    One cc less than Nameless Inversion and the lack of ‘changeling’ make me doubtful this will be in constructed play.

    Feast of Blood – 1B
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Cast Feast of Blood only if you control two or more Vampires.
    Destroy target creature. You gain 4 life.
    #88/249

    JOE

    Only awesome in one archetype, which should make this uncommon even more available for that particular archetype… this should be awesome whenever you can cast it.
    JAMES
    Amazing for the new vampire deck developing for Type 2. I mean seirously? Target creature? nothing about “non-black” or “tapped”–excellent. And you gain life off it? Sheesh. Seems like B might be the new life-gain deck (versus W & G as most recently seen).

    Giant Scorpion – 2B
    Creature – Scorpion (Common)
    Deathtouch
    1/3

    JOE

    1/3 isn’t very giant, but I guess it IS a scorpion we’re talking about. 1/3 deathtouch is worth every bit of 2B in my book. Playable. Deadly recluse is this guy’s pimp though. “Scorpion betta have my money!”

    JAMES
    It’s not going to make the cut w/ these stats. Not sure why B would play this over some of the amazing vampires we’ve seen so far.

    Ravenous Trap – 2BB
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If an opponent had three or more cards put into his or her graveyard from anywhere this turn, you may pay {0} rather than pay Ravenous Trap’s mana cost.
    Exile all cards from target player’s graveyard.

    JOE

    Meh. Not a lot of uses for this. Sideboard… this is more of a constructed card / something to hose dredge.

    JAMES
    I don’t see it; not even sure what the point is. If we’re talking extended, then we have Tormods crypt. In standard, there might be a use for it but getting an opponent to drop 3 cards in one turn is tough and then we’re assuming that the graveyard has something worth exiling…unearth? Meh, not for me.

    Sadistic Sacrament – BBB
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Kicker {7} (You may pay an additional {7} as you cast this spell.)
    Search target player’s library for up to three cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his or her library. If Sadistic Sacrament was kicked, instead search that player’s library for up to fifteen cards, exile them, then that player shuffles his of her library.

    JOE

    If you ever reach 10 mana, chances are that the 15 cards you milled will win you the game. However, that rarely happens, and grabbing 3 cards doesn’t do much other than take away their bombs, two out of the three of which they likely wouldn’t have seen anyway… plus, they’re still going to see SOMETHING when they otherwise would have drawn the cards you took… so this ends up being a do-nothing kind of card in limited. Avoid it, unless you’re certain you can ramp to the 10-mana version, and you’re mill.dec anyway.

    JAMES
    This is sorta interesting and it goes back to my theory (last post) that we’re seeing a gentle shift toward bigger and bigger mana curves. Hitting someone on turn 10-12 with this will be pretty devastating. It’s something I can see being a 2x. That being said, MonoB is shaping up to equal “Vampires” and not so much discard/control, so I’m not sure it’s worth toying with this at all. I personally think that Thought Hemorrhage is better. This might have a home in extended decks where hosing a combo-linchpin can mean “auto scoop”. Tron losing academy ruins or crucible of worlds, or heritage druid in elves! for example.

    Vampire Hexmage – BB
    Creature – Vampire Shaman (Uncommon)
    First strike
    Sacrifice Vampire Hexmage: Remove all counters from target permanent.
    2/1
    #114/249

    JOE

    Okay, so this is going to inevitably have some kind of weird combo to it… Dark Depths comes to mind, for instance… I think we can actually be 99% certain that dark depths / vampire hexmage will see play in extended, in fact.20/20 indestructible on turn 3? You better counter the hexmage if you see him in extended. You heard it here first people! I think it’s going to have some other uses I’m not thinking of right now, but it’s probably just expedition / quest protection before then… It’s way playable as a mini-black knight in any case, plus it’s a vampire. It’s playable.

    JAMES
    Joe is onto something w/ Extended liking this deck. It just says “counters” so you could conceivably drop it, and then sac it to remove all counters from a planeswalker. That’s pretty vicious in itself.

    Vampire’s Bite – B
    Instant (Common)
    Kicker {2}{B} (You may pay an additional {2}{B} as you cast this spell.)
    Target creature gets +3/+0 until end of turn. If Vampire’s Bite was kicked, that creature gains lifelink until end of turn.
    #117/249
    Red(23)

    JOE

    Decent combat trick. Lifelink is gravy, so kick it if you have nothing better to do, since why not?

    JAMES
    Not much to say here…

    Burst Lightning – R
    Instant (Common)
    Kicker {4} (You may pay an additional {4} as you cast this spell.)
    Burst Lightning deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If Burst Lightning was kicked, it deals 4 damage to that creature or player instead.

    JOE

    Strictly better than shock = playable in limited. Most likely playable in constructed as well.

    JAMES
    It’s filling the slot for Lightening Bolt and fighting for Magma Spray‘s so I’m not sure how to figure this one. Magma spray is slightly better for kiling creatures since it exiles the creature. That being said, it will hit players, filling in the Tarfire slot. Ultimately Tarfire proved slightly more played than Magma Spray simply because you could hit players (and helping Aunties Hovel enter the battlefield “untapped”). Keeping that in mind and the new awesomeness of Chandra Ablaze, I can see this making the cut.

    Goblin War-Paint – 1R
    Enchantment – Aura (Common)
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has haste.
    “Survival rule 223: Don’t eat the paint.”
    - Zurdi, goblin shortcutter
    #129/249

    JOE

    On an aura, haste is a complete waste of time. If you’re using this for granting a creature haste, you’ve essentially failed the skill test this card presents. It ought to be evaluated solely on the basis of a +2/+2. I think it’s clearly not worth the 241 exposure.

    JAMES
    Well, dropping this late game on a top-decked creature isn’t THAT horrible. Agreed, it’s a +2/+2 though. Anyway, I don’t anticipate this making any splashes in our lifetimes.

    Hellkite Charger – 4RR
    Creature – Dragon (Rare)
    Flying, haste
    Whenever Hellkite Charger attacks, you may pay {5}{R}{R}. If you do, untap all creatures you control and after this phase, there is an additional combat phase.
    5/5

    JOE

    Bomb rare. Very very good. Incidentally, in some formats, this may present quirky / possibly casual decks that use lots of mana creatures to create an infinite combat phase recursion. Fun stuff. Two birds of paradise, two llanowar elves, a priest of titania, and a partridge in a pear tree?

    JAMES
    Pretty sexy dragon here. Costs one more than Demigod of Revenge but since it’s just double RR, I can see this going in a mono-red. Getting even just one extra attack phase is pretty nuts. I’m asking myself if I would rather play Chandra Ablaze at 6cc and discard a Burst Lightening for 4 damage rather than the 5 hasty…and I’m not sure. There’s also Bogardan Hellkite and Flameblast Dragon. Flameblast is qualitatively worse since it would do less damage (Haste is no joke on this Dragon Charger). Hellkite acts as a sweeper…this card is worth testing with.

    Punishing Fire – 1R
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Punishing Fire deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
    Whenever an opponent gains life, you may pay {R}. If you do, return Punishing Fire from your graveyard to your hand.

    JOE

    This looks somewhat promising, though it’s best against crap like angels feather that gain one life at a time. You shouldn’t need help beating people who play that mess. Against the 5 life gain of baneslayer angel, for example, this doesn’t do much other than use your mana up slightly delaying the inevitable. Still, it’s another burn spell that’s passable, and will occasionally do double duty against random lifegaining vampires and what have you. If you see an opponent attacking with a lifelink creature, remember that, mana allowing, you can use this to nuke a 4 toughness guy.

    JAMES
    Wow. Pretty impressive instant. Being able to return the card to your hand (and immediately play it) seems very sweet. Since red decks have a problem holding on to cards and then quickly going into top-deck mode, I’d wager this sees lots of tourney play. I like this for a B/R deck running Needlebite Trap. Two mana for 7 damage to an opponent and 5 lifegain back to “me” is impressive. Being able to hit a creature with this will be relevant.

    Pyromancer Ascension – 1R
    Enchantment (Rare)
    Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell that has the same name as a card in your graveyard, you may put a quest counter on Pyromancer Ascension.
    Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell while Pyromancer Ascension has two or more quest counters on it, you may copy that spell. You may choose new targets for that copy.
    Illus. Kev Walker

    JOE

    I’m not sure whether a card with retrace (flame jab) will trigger this when played from the graveyard without another copy in the yard… if so, that may be a weird burn variant for extended. However, in limited, this will never be enabled. In constructed, once it’s online, it’s pretty nice. The rebirth of lightning bolt has me hoping that a standard burn deck is viable. We’ll see. Pass this in draft though… it ain’t gonna happen.

    JAMES
    Wow, I like this card. I’m worried it might be a stretch but the potential is pretty impressive.

    Quest for Pure Flame – R
    Enchantment (Uncommon)
    Whenever a source you control deals damage to an opponent. you may put a quest counter on Quest for Pure Flame.
    Remove four quest counters from Quest for Pure Flame and sacrifice it: Until end of turn, if a source you control would deal damage to a creature of player, it deals double that damage to that creature or player instead.
    #144/249

    JOE

    Hmmm. This might be acceptable in the right limited deck. If fireball were in my pool, for example, I’d run this guy for sure, as it makes the end game fireball win come that much faster. Four counters shouldn’t be difficult with this lax a condition. Interesting card. Even if confined to combat, this could be worthwhile.

    JAMES
    My primary concern with all these quest cards is the “tempo.” They all seem slow–though I am a fan of Luminarch Ascension and “sorta” fan of Khalni Heart Expedition. This one in a red deck seems particuarly underpowered. It’s essentially activated on turn 6 since it’s not likely that you’ll have enough mana on turn 5 to cast a 4th burn spell and justifiably sac it. Maybe…I mean, if you can keep Chandra on the table and discard a card for 4, with Quest for the Pure Flame activated, you’re doing 8 damage. On turn 7 that could mean end of the game. There’s just a lot of “ifs” and “maybes” in that plan. I don’t really like hopeful-wishful playing…

    Ruinous Minotaur – 1RR
    Creature – Minotaur (Common)
    Whenever Ruminous Minotaur deals damage to an opponent, sacrifice a land.
    5/2

    JOE

    Weak. Not interested. This is only imaginable way late game, at which time the CC doesn’t matter and a 5/2 kinda sucks… unless it follows a sweeper… but no… this sucks.

    JAMES
    Wtf? Why would I want to sac a land? 4 damage on turn 4 isn’t worth it.

    Runeflare Trap – 4RR
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If an opponent drew three or more cards this turn, you may pay {R} rather then pay Runeflare Trap’s mana cost.
    Runeflare Trap deals damage equal to the number of cards in target player’s hand to that player.

    JOE

    Hmm. I’m guessing this will have some play in some older formats for use against combo decks perhaps? But in limited, this is a 6 mana shock, pretty much. Nobody’s drawing three cards in limited, and even if they did, they’re still probably only at 4 cards in hand. This only hits players. I’m gonna pass on this one.

    JAMES
    I could see this in extended. I could see it being really good in extended. I’m such a fan-boy for the Trap ability…Anyway, there probably is enough draw from cards like Esper Charm to justify a SB slot for this. I’m just not sure that we’ll be seeing a lot of esper charms or draw-go oriented decks in this meta so I would wait on it for a while. So far as in extended, this seems like a partially viable SB choice. Ben Lundquist in last week’s online workshop warned us players going into big tournies to be VERY careful of narrow SB choices. He was answering a question about PT Austin next month and had that new extended meta in mind when he was discussion. Still, I think the advice to be wary of narrow SB choices is a good one. Final answer for playbility: marginal to really really good, depending on how the meta shapes up over the next few weeks.

    Tuktuk Grunts – 4R
    Creature – Goblin Warrior Ally (Common)
    Haste
    Whenever Tuktuk Grunts or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Tuktuk Grunts.
    2/2
    #152/249

    JOE

    This is a supporting role ally. On his own, as your only ally, he’s a hasty 3/3 for 5. Not exactly stellar. With 5 or more other allies, he’s just fine, but not the show stopper. He’s the supporting cast.

    JAMES
    Weird that this costs so much more for essentially a WORSE version of the same card: Kazandu Blademaster (the double Wcc, first strike, vigilance 1/1–2/2 counting his own counters). For haste? really? This card sucks. wtf.

    Zektar Shrine Expedition – 1R
    Enchantment (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may put a quest counter on Zektar Shrine Expedition.
    Remove three quest counters from Zektar Shrine Expedition and sacrifice it: Put a 7/1 red Elemental creature token with haste and trample onto the battlefield. Sacrifice it at the beginning of the end step.
    Green(29)

    JOE

    So it’s a delayed elemental appeal. Not terrible. It does give your opponent to get his ducks in a row though. Most people won’t be taking 7 from this. As such, I’d rather not play it.

    JAMES
    I think all these quest cards are marginal. I don’t like this one. Too slow.

    Baloth Cage Trap – 3GG
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If an opponent had an artifact enter the battlefield under his or her control this turn, you may pay {1}{G} rather then pay Baloth Cage Trap’s mana cost.
    Put a 4/4 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield.

    JOE

    This one, I can get behind. 5 for a 4/4 isn’t terrible at all, and it’s an instant! This will ruin combats for a lot of opponents. And randomly, it’ll cost you 1G. Strong card here. This should be thought of as in-combat removal for green.

    JAMES
    Not bad. I’m wondering if this will go for extended where we ALWAYS see affinity. And why wouldn’t we? Arcbound Ravanger is still broken as all hell. I definitely like the appeal of playing a 4/4 EOT–or at the beginning of the end of turn. (lol; some of the language changes always tickle me). For standard, I have seen a few pretty fun artifact, esper-bant-esque decks and this would be a good fit. It’s just not a great card to have on turns 2 through 4 where G wants to be pumping out a) lands or b) fatties. That makes me think it’s on the fence. I’m sure it’s worth testing though. Again, I’m leaning more toward extended.

    Beastmaster Ascension – 2G
    Enchantment (Rare)
    Whenever a creature you control attacks, you may put a quest counter on Beastmaster Ascension.
    As long as Beastmaster Ascension has seven or more quest counters on it, creatures you control get +5/+5

    JOE

    I’d say this is playable in limited. All you have to do is attack… this should be online by turn 5 or 6 in the typical green aggro deck. And the benefit is so huge. I’d almost call it a bomb, but as an enchantment that doesn’t help you with an empty board, it’s still kind of conditional.

    JAMES
    Assuming you play this on turn 3, this doesn’t seem so bad. It doesn’t even need to be in a mono-G deck. All those token creators (see white above) would love to have a playmate like this. Again, I’m not completely sold on the tempo-related viablity of the quest cards. This one seems pretty decent though.

    Cobra Trap – 4GG
    Instant – Trap (Uncommon)
    If an opponent countered a noncreature spell this turn, you may pay {G} rather than pay Cobra Trap’s casting cost.
    Put four 1/1 green Snake creature tokens onto the battlefield.

    JOE

    Well, this should be seen much as Baloth Cage Trap above. Solid as a removal spell for limited… probably even better than Baloth Cage. And this will more likely see its trap cost as well. Very cool.

    JAMES
    Bummer the snakes don’t have deathtouch. I like this for when my planeswalker is countered but it’s not a good “on curve” spell–meaning on curve I’m playing Garruk Wildspeaker and have no mana left. Now I have to wait a turn? I say this isn’t good enough.

    Frontier Guide – 1G
    Creature – Elf Scout (Uncommon)
    {3}{G}, {T}: Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. Then shuffle your library.
    1/1

    JOE

    Another landfall enabler, this one is decent as a fixer, though not as an accelerant. He can’t help your two-land stall hands. I’d still run him though, if I needed help finding my splash color.

    JAMES
    Not so bad. But not good. Too slow. I wonder why it’s not 2, G {T} rather than 3…it’s not an on-curve play.

    Grazing Gladehart – 2G
    Creature – Antelope (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may gain 2 life.
    2/2
    #163/249

    JOE

    Pretty solid. Gray ogre with free life gain works for me.

    JAMES
    Not much here for me.

    Greenweaver Druid – 2G
    Creature – Elf (Uncommon)
    {T}: Add {G}{G} to your mana pool.
    1/1
    #164/249

    JOE

    Fyndhorn elder, huh? Well, sure, I guess. He’s worth it.

    JAMES
    Not so shabby but I think the timing is way off. He costs a lot more than Noble Heirarch and isn’t even remotely as good as Lotus Cobra so I say this guy doesn’t see the light of day so far as constructed goes.

    Lotus Cobra – 1G
    Creature – Snake (Mythic Rare)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may add one mana of any color to your mana pool.
    Its scales contain the essence of thousands of lotus blooms.
    2/1
    Illus. Chippy
    #168/249

    JOE

    Mike Flores hit the nail on the head in his article previewing Lotus Cobra. There’s a reason playsets are going for $90+ on ebay already. This card will define formats. Definitely more of a constructed card, but I can’t see any reason not to maindeck this guy and never look back in limited. He’s a bear, after all, and there’s no such thing as mana burn. Whatchoo talkin’ bout, mana burn? If you open this, rejoice in your monetary boon and be happy with your karma.

    JAMES
    Yeah, anything I say here is just superfluous. Get your playsets ASAP. Never trade this card away. Yes, it IS that good. Stop doubting it. You will wish to god you have this card. It’s the most amazingness printed in a long while.

    Mold Shambler – 3G
    Creature – Fungus Beast (Common)
    Kicker {1}{G}
    When Mold Shambler enters the battlefield, if it was kicked, destroy target noncreature permanent.
    3/3
    #169/249

    JOE

    Hill Giant at worst makes him playable. The kicker is a total boon, and will often save the day. This should be a cornerstone common for green, and a somewhat high pick I’m guessing.

    JAMES
    This card is actually kind of interesting to me. I just wonder if 6cc is enough to justify destroying a planeswalker. And I think it is. With a 3/3 body, it looks pretty playable as a SB selection.

    Primal Bellow – G
    Instant (Common)
    Target creature gets +1+1 until end of turn for each Forest you control.

    JOE

    Wow, this definitely sees play in older formats. Elfball can sneak a win here or there with this thing. In limited, as long as green’s a main color and not a splash, this is an excellent trick.

    JAMES
    Great trick. Doubles as removal for when an opponent calls your bluff–and can act like a bluff. It’s clearly better than [card]Giant Growth[card] after T3. That being said, not many decks play giant growth. I think there’s a better green card: Vines of Vastwood (see here)

    Summoning Trap – 4GG
    Instant – Trap (Rare)
    If a creature you cast this turn was countered by a spell or ability an opponent controlled, you may pay {0} rather then pay Summoning Trap’s casting cost.
    Look at the top seven cards of your library. You may put a creature card from among them onto the battlefield. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.

    JOE

    I like this! You’ll almost always hit a creature. If they just countered your guy, great! But even if not, you may as well pay the 6 and try your luck at EOT. Cool card.

    JAMES
    Jesus. This is a REALLY good trap. Great, you countered by Broodmate? NP, I’ll just grab another one for free…don’t mind if I doooo! ;-) I’d expect to see this in Extended & potentially Standard as a SB.

    Turntimber Basilisk – 1GG
    Creature – Basilisk (Uncommon)
    Deathtouch
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target target creature block Turntimber Basilisk this turn if able.
    2/1
    #190/249

    JOE

    Nifty. This guy’s kind of like a removal creature that can’t hit guys with a tap ability. But he loves opposing creatures with vigilance! He’s alright, but I’m not infatuated here. Decent stuff, nothing spectacular.

    JAMES
    Undecided here. It’s removal for a color that doesn’t really have much removal and a 2 powered “semi-evasion” creature (because who wants to trade w/ a deathtouch?). BUT it cost 3 and takes a turn to get going. I’m not sure the tempo is fast enough.

    Zendikar Farguide – 4G
    Creature – Elemental (Common)
    Forestwalk
    3/3

    JOE

    Weak. Side it in against forests. Not much else to say.

    JAMES
    next!

    Adventuring Gear – 2
    Artifact – Equipment (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, equipped creature gets +2+2 until end of turn.
    Equip {1}
    #195/249

    JOE

    Nothing wrong with this equipment! Should be good for +2/+2 a lot of the time, and +4/+4 every once in a while. The only problem is the creature gets jack on the opponent’s turn, so don’t go picking this high… it will make the cut sometimes though.

    JAMES
    Not bad for limited. Cost is pretty good and you “only” have to play a land to make ti worth while. I wouldn’t really want more than one but I certainly won’t start moaning if my opponent drops this one me. I don’t believe this will ever be played in constructed.

    Blazing Torch – 1
    Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
    Equipped creature can’t be blocked by Vampires or Zombies.
    Equipped creature has: “{T}, Sacrifice Blazing Torch: Blazing Torch deals 2 damage to target creature or player.”
    Equip {1}

    JOE

    An expensive shock sometimes, but still good because it’s colorless. Against zombies and vampires, it’s got the fear factor, so that’s a bonus too. Not bad. Removal is very important in limited.

    JAMES
    Nah, it’s just not good enough.

    Hedron Scrabbler – 2
    Artifact Creature – Construct (Common)
    Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, Hedron Scrabbler gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
    1/1
    #204/249

    JOE

    No thanks.

    JAMES
    Me either.

    Stonework Puma – 3
    Artifact Creature – Cat Ally (Common)
    These PUMAs would never settle for being third in line.
    2/2
    #207/249

    JOE

    No thanks, unless I already have 2-3 allies with rocking abilities. Actually… he IS gray ogre, so I guess sometimes I might pick him in hopes of good allies to come.

    JAMES
    Not playable.

    Trailblazer’s Boots – 2
    Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
    Equipped creature has nonbasic landwalk.
    Equip {2}
    #208/249

    JOE

    Nice. Might have a place in a number of EDH decks I can think of. In limited, this will be more of a sideboard card though, since most opponents will not have much in the way of nonbasics, and this does nothing in such cases.

    JAMES
    This isn’t the worst equipment ever. Non-basics are everywhere in every constructed envrionment. It’s not Loxodon Warhammer or Behemoth Sledge though so I don’t think it will be played.

    Trusty Machete – 1
    Artifact – Equipment (Uncommon)
    Equipped creature gets +2/+1.
    Equip {2}
    “Until the expedition is done, that blade is your guardian, your liberation and your best friend all rolled into one”
    - Yon Basrel, Oran-Rief survivalist
    #209/249
    Land(18)

    JOE

    I love the name! The effect is just fine too. Good old trusty machete. Reminiscent of bonesplitter. Probably better.

    JAMES
    Nope, also not going to make the cut in my book.

    Kabira Crossroads
    Land (Common)
    Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield tapped.
    When Kabira Crossroads enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.
    {T}: Add {W} to your mana pool.

    JOE

    Weak… no thanks.

    JAMES
    editing from a mis-read. this isn’t the dual land cycle!

    Magosi, the Waterveil
    Land (Rare)
    Magosi, the Waterveil enters the battlefield tapped.
    {T}: Add {U} to your mana pool.
    {U}, {T}: Put an eon counter on Magosi, the Waterveil. Skip your next turn.
    {T}, Remove an eon counter from Magosi, the Waterveil and return it to its owners hand: Take an extra turn after this one.

    JOE

    Nope… not interested in a fixed time vault. In Magic, the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” gets turned on its head to become “unless it’s broke, don’t fix it.”

    JAMES
    Huh? I don’t think so…

    Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
    Land (Rare)
    Oran-Rief, the Vastwood enters the battlefield tapped.
    {T}: Add {G} to your mana pool.
    {T}: Put a +1/+1 counter on each green creature that entered the battlefield this turn.
    Illus. Mike Bierek
    #221/249

    JOE

    This one’s probably worth it.

    JAMES
    Pretty interesting. I’d toy with 2x in testing. Getting +1/+1 on tokens (see above) seems pretty viable.

    Piranha Marsh
    Land (Common)
    Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield tapped.
    When Piranha Marsh enters the battlefield, target player loses 1 life.
    {T}: Add {B} to your mana pool.

    JOE

    Again, I’m not interested in such piddly effects. CiP tapped is worth more than 1 life.

    JAMES
    …Yeah, the “gain 2 life” is enough for a dual but having opponents lose a mere one life for a ETBT seems weak…

    Power 9 Pro New Product Spoiler Contest Winners

    Power 9 Pro’s second product the N-Dexers has been announced! We held a spoiler contest to see if any Magic players could guess what the product would be based off the accompanying sticker-art.

    n-dexers sticker art
    n-dexers sticker art

    Winners were selected based on how close they were able to guess what the product was for or how it related to Magic: the Gathering.

    Though we had no “perfect guesses,” there were a number that were so close we couldn’t say they were wrong.
    You’ll see from the locations of the winners below, that Magic players from around the world participated in our contest. We’re elated to interact with the Magic community on such a personal level and look forward to hosting more contests.

    In fact we had so much fun with the N-Dexers spoiler contest that we decided to hold another contest for the N-Dexers, this time tying in the Dragon’s Egg Power 9 Pro’s first solution designed with Magic players in mind. You can see all the details for that contest here. Our teammate Zak started us off with pics of his trip to Machu Picchu. (Don’t worry, he’s not really competition for the contest).

    Without further ado, the contest winners are:

    • Marco Ruiz from near-by Santa Rosa, CA USA
    • Daniel Santorso from Terryville, CT USA
    • Andrew D’Agostino from Yardley PA, USA
    • Nathan Merilees from Sechelt, British Columbia Canada
    • Nicholas Chmielewski from Annerley, Queensland Australia

    Thanks again to everyone who participated. It was really exciting seeing your guesses. :)

    Alara Reborn Previews Batch 3

    Ardent Plea – 1WU
    Enchantment (Uncommon)
    Exalted
    Cascade
    Illus. Chippy
    #1/145

    Well, on Friday Tom LaPille revealed here that 3cc will be the lowest casting cost for a card with Cascade.  I also like the “vanilla” feel of this exalted card.  Will this see play flipping knight of the white orchid, or wizened cenn, etc.?  A noble hierarch or a path to exile seems likely too… if there’s any trivial way to manipulate the top of one’s library, then I think this becomes even more intriguing.  I wonder if a deck can exist such that only a single spell costs 2 or less, thus ensuring that Ardent Plea has a consistent and predictable bonus spell from Cascase.

    Bolt of Intimidation* – 1RW
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Bolt of Intimidation deals 3 damage to target creature. Other creatures can’t attack this turn.

    Interesting.  Immediately, I love the flavor of this.  Since you have to play this in your opponent’s first main phase, it’s indeed got the intimidation flavor just right; the opponent’s creatures see their comrade get zapped, and they’re like, “oh, HELL no!”  Funny stuff.  The fact that it can just randomly be hard-cast thunderclap or whatever, makes this fine removal.

    Cerodon Yearling – RW
    Creature – Beast (Common)
    Vigilance, haste
    2/2

    I like this bear.  Haste goes a long way in my book, and vigilance is also at times underrated.  A lot of times the early game involves one player with a bear or 1-drop initiating a small early game damage race, and a lot of times you either just watch it happen with no early drops, or you accept the race conditions and swing with your team as well, trading attack steps.  This guy lets you keep swinging AND try to stem the flow from their 1-drops… allowing you to apply pressure while presenting the trade for bears… I just think this card is more strategically rich than it appears at first.  I like him.  He is enemy colored though, so he’s only really well suited to naya… or maybe really-well-fixed 5-color.

    Colossal Might – RG
    Instant (Common)
    Target creature gets +4/+2 and gains trample until end of turn.

    Nice!  I like this effect.  A good boost for the money, and trample to boot.  Trample will be the big draw here, letting you power through with bull cerodon or the like for the last few (or many!) points.

    Crystallization – {gu}W
    Enchantment – Aura (Common)
    Enchant creature
    Enchanted creature can’t attack or block.
    Whenever enchanted creature is the target of a spell or ability, remove it from the game.
    I wish I’d never heard of this shard!

    This is a very good pacifism effect with the built-in RFG thing.  Should be played heavily in limited.  Bant decks might even have weird uses for it in constructed, but I suspect path to exile will remain the supreme spot removal spell in constructed for the near future.

    Mayael’s Aria – RGW
    Enchantment (Rare)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control if you control a creature with power 5 or greater. Then you gain 10 life if you control a creature with power 10 or greater. Then you win the game if you control a creature with power 20 or greater.
    Some songs soothe the savage beast.
    Mayael’s song emboldens them.

    Lol.  That’s my first reaction.  What a weird mashup of the oddyssey-era “you win the game if…” type cards, along with some genuinely powerful spike stuff.  The tokens ability will straight-up house people in limited, and given enough time will turn on the ultimate ability here.  This is an interesting little enchantment in my opinion.  On-color, I can’t see myself not playing this as long as I have a couple fatties.  This is a funny card.  I guess you kind of pull your pants down if they can keep you creatureless, but this tokens thing is o ajani goldmane it just seems solid.

    Passed Prosperity* – {rw}G
    Enchantment – Aura (Common)
    Enchant land
    Enchanted land has shroud.
    Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, you may add one mana of any color to your mana pool.

    I’m not sure I like this one.  Shroud’s only relevant in that it mitigate’s some of the typical two-for-one worries associated with auras.  So now the card’s essentially fertile ground for a more-difficult casting cost.  Fixers with tough casting costs should be used with care.  I’d look elsewhere for my fixing when possible.

    Putrid Leech – BG
    Creature – Leech (Common)
    Pay 2 life: Putrid Leech gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn.
    2/2

    An interesting bear… you can speed the game up well with this guy.  I think I like it.  For the early aggro rush strategy, thick with bears, this guy is in line with the r’aison d’etre of the archetype.  Neat.

    Sanity Gnawers – 1BR
    Creature – Rat (Common)
    When Sanity Gnawers comes into play, target opponent discards a card at random.
    1/1

    Hmmm… Okay, the random part won me over in the end.  This card might be good enough to make the cut.  I’ve been steering clear of hard core discard strategies in limited for the last few years… I don’t know whether there’s a critical mass of rats and such these days, but perhaps.  This is certainly not my kind of card, but it is annoying when you lose your bomb to blightning or something like this rat.

    Soul Manipulation – 1UB
    Instant (Common)
    Choose one or both � Counter target creature spell; and/or return target creature card in your graveyard to your hand.

    Awesome.  You’ll usually be able to use this right away in a pinch, returning a dude for a second tour of duty.  Other times, you’ll stop their bomby creature.  Sometimes you’ll be ready to do both, in which cases, the tempo swing should be great.  A sick card for any kind of controlling or aggro-control approach.  CIP creatures are obviously ideal here.

    Finest Hour – 2GWU
    Enchantment (Rare)
    Exalted
    Whenever a creature you control attacks alone, if its the first combat phase of the turn, untap that creature. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase.
    Illus. Michael Komarck
    #126/145

    I’ve always liked cards like relentless assault, although that isn’t the same as saying such cards are “good.”  I think this enchantment is probably weaker than, say, angelic benediction, which is also a lot easier to cast.  Still, this will surely rock some limited games, if not being a true bomb.  You’ll still need an evasive beater, but as long as that’s true, this should swing things your way pretty well in terms of damage races.  Seems best suited for skies.  Exalted seems best on cheaper guys.  Noble Hierarch is undoubtedly the best exalted spell.

    Slave of Bolas – 3{ru}B
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Gain control of target creature. Untap that creature. It gains haste until end of turn. Sacrifice that creature at end of turn.
    For Nicol Bolas, there’s no difference between servants and victims
    #136/145

    Awesome.  This mashup gives you all the old threaten tricks in one shot; no need for your own sacrificial outlet.  Obviouly this will be a huge removal spell in the new limited formats, and will likely see some amount of constructed play as well, though this will probably be limited to block, maybe standard.

    Alara Reborn Previews Batch 2

    Here’s the next 15 cards, along with my initial thoughts within ~15 seconds of seeing the card.

    Filigree Angel – 5WWU
    Artifact Creature – Angel (Rare)
    Flying
    When Filigree Angel comes into play, you gain 3 life for each artifact you control.
    4/4
    Illus. Richard Whitters
    #6/145

    My first thought here is that this is a bit overcosted, and as such will likely only see play as a reanimation target.  That said, while I can imagine a scenario in which I gain tons of life with this thing, maybe using something like momentary blink or the like, I’m thinking that normally, the idea is to cheat something into play in order to quickly win, not simply to gain lots of life and “not lose”… This still might see play in a high-curve, many-obelisk-ed limited pile, but in general, this is a loser.

    Lich Lord of Unx – 1UB
    Creature – Zombie Wizard (Rare)
    {U}{B}, {T}: Put a 1/1 blue and black Zombie Wizard creature token into play.
    {U}{U}{B}{B}: Target player loses X life and puts the top X cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard where X is the number of Zombies you control.
    2/2
    Illus. Dave Allsop
    #24/145

    Whoa momma.  So right off the bat, this is a decent token producer in a color without a lot of precedent for that.  Thus, being pricier than, say, Selesnya Evangel, is understandable.  The second ability, though, makes the extra cost quite a bargain, as for 4 mana on the next turn  you can mill and drain life for, presumably, two or more.  Furthermore, when you hit 8 mana, you can go double-time with this.  All in all, I think the two abilities are a little at-odds with one another.  Are you trying to develop the board, or are you trying to mill them, or are you trying to reduce their life to 0 with the burn?  It’s a jumble of abilities, and in the case of this mashup card, I think there’s likely a tendency to lose focus and start “doing cool things” instead of winning… but if you remain focused, this should provide you with a concentration of productive things to do as well.  I think he’s probably relegated to 40 card piles though.
    Igneous Pouncer – 4BR
    Creature – Elemental (Common)
    Haste
    Swampcycling {2}, mountaincycling {2}
    5/1
    Illus. Chippy
    #40/145

    Another in the ally-color land cycling… cycle.  A hasty 5/1 is only worth 6 mana if it’s the final nail in the coffin… like when they alpha strike into your fog or something.  I think this one should only be picked if what you really need is a fixer, not another dude.
    Lightning Reaver – 3BR
    Creature – Zombie Beast (Rare)
    Fear, haste
    Whenever Lightning Reaver deals combat damage to a player, put a charge counter on it.
    At the end of your turn, Lightning Reaver deals damage equal to the number of charge counters on it to each opponent.
    3/3
    Illus. Cyril Van Der Haegen
    #42/145

    Now we’re talking!  So this guy’s a little pricier than a hill giant, but you get haste and fear… already he’s probably worth running and above average.  But you also get this recurring damage feature, making this guy an insane clock.  Assuming you hit the first turn he’s out, you’ve done 3 and he gets a counter, doing an extra point at the EOT, bringing the total to 4.  On his second turn, that number increases to 5 with a 2-turn total of 9 damage.  The next turn it’s 15, then 21.  So it’s a 4-turn clock if left unchecked, and will likely do no less than 4 damage.  If they have a black or artifact blocker, which is likely in Alara, things won’t go as smoothly, but you still have a surprise attacker with recurring damage.

    As an aside, he’s even cooler in multi-player, where he damages all your opponents at EOT.  Neato.

    I’m guessing he’ll be fun to play with, but won’t make any kind of constructed appearance whatsoever.

    Bloodbraid Elf – 2RG
    Creature – Elf Beserker (Uncommon)
    Haste
    Cascade (When you play this spell, remove cards from the top of your library from the game until you reveal a nonland card that costs less. You may play it without paying its mana cost. Put the removed cards on the bottom in a random order.
    3/2
    Illus. Dominick Domingo
    #50/145

    Okay, so 4cc is now the lowest casting cost of a cascade card… this one’s not terrible.  You get a decent hasty dork, and a free spell.  I love the idea of flipping this guy with bituminous blast, and chaining into yet another spell… will there be a cascade deck?  Time will tell… and the only thing keeping this guy from constructed play will be the level of support, or lack thereof.  Keep an eye on this mechanic!

    Glory of Warfare – 2RW
    Enchantment (Rare)
    As long as it’s your turn, creatures you control get +2/+0.
    As long as it’s not your turn, creatures you control get +0/+2.

    Hmm… interesting.  No doubt this will help you attack and block!  Certain decks in limited will be ready to exploit this effect… swarm and skies approaches come to mind.  But I just don’t think this has enough effect as a 4-drop to ever see the light of day in constructed.

    Mycoid Shepherd – 1GGW
    Creature – Fungus (Rare)
    Whenever Mycoid Shepherd or another creature you control with power 5 or greater is put into a graveyard from play, you may gain 5 life.
    5/4
    Illus. Trevor Claxton
    #73/145

    Interesting… there’s a flood of 4-drop 5-power guys running around.  This one has a pretty nice benefit.  Life gains of 5 at a time can’t be ignored.  Plus, you get another dude who is eligible for buffs from the myriad “… target creature with power 5 or greater…” effects in block.  I’m on the fence with this guy when it comes to constructed… are there any / enough ways to recur a big dork such that you can repeatedly gain 5?  If so, that might be enough of a defensive strength to warrant exploration of this creature… after all, wall of reverence showed us what recurring lifegain can do in this environment…

    Qasali Pridemage – GW
    Creature – Cat Wizard (Common)
    Exalted
    {1}, Sacrifice Qasali Pridemage: Destroy target artifact or enchantment.
    2/2
    Illus. Chris Rahn
    #75/145

    No doubt this will see play in bant strategies, as a sideboard card if nothing else.  A versatile removal spell for any format, and a much-needed 3rd pack answer to artifacts!  Very cool.

    Lord of Extinction – 3BG
    Creature – Elemental (Mythic Rare)
    Lord of Extinction’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of cards in all graveyards.
    */*
    Illus. Izzy
    #91/145

    This reminds me of Keldon Warlord or maybe Soulless One.  Clearly it’s drawing on lhurgoyf lineage as well.  What can you really say?  He’s big.  Sometimes really really big, other times, puny… and if Tormod has anything to say about it, he’ll just vanish altogether (or become a 1/1 I guess).  I think this is actually a more-vanilla mythic rare than even the angel we saw in the last batch.

    Enigma Sphinx – 4WUB
    Artifact Creature – Sphinx (Rare)
    Flying
    When Enigma Sphinx is put into your graveyard from play, put it into your library third from the top.
    Cascade (When you play this spell, remove cards from the top of your library from the game until your reveal a nonland card that costs less. You may play it without paying its mana cost. Put the removed cards on the bottom in a random order.)
    5/4
    Illus. Chris Rahn
    #106/145

    A huge cascade guy… a decent sized flier.  I’m trying to justify the 7cc on this guy and having trouble doing it.  I guess his slow self-ressurection aspect is neat… Cascade needs a lesser cc to trigger, so you can’t get cascade on the stack, then sacrifice this guy to get him in the 3rd spot of your deck… that would be a neat trick.  So yeah, I’m not seeing any inherent trickiness that makes this anything compelling in constructed.  In limited, just be happy you have a (decent-sized / flying) guy who will come back to help you after your opponent removes him.
    Sen Triplets – 2WUB
    Legendary Artifact Creature – Human Wizard (Rare)
    At the beginning of your upkeep, choose target opponent. This turn, that player can?t play spells or activated abilities and plays with his or her hand revealed. You can play cards from that player?s hand this turn.
    They are the masters of your mind.
    3/3
    Illus. Greg Staples
    #109/145

    Whoa damn.  So for a somewhat-tricky tri-colored 5cc mana cost, you get to Orim’s Chant someone (albeit on your own turn), AND you sort-of-mindslaver them… actually the first part is more like abeyance, and the second… well… muse vessel?  This seems very very good to me.  If you can drop a single land, or do something like play their removal spell on their own men… you shouldn’t have much problem winning.  The trick will be getting this Sen Triplets thing to live until your next upkeep.  I think as usual, this fails the path-to-exile test!  I like the idea of the effect, but it is probably too vulnerable and outclassed by other more resilient threats.  Still very cool.  Should wreck some limited games.

    Madrush Cyclops – 1BRG
    Creature – Cyclops Warrior (Rare)
    Creatures you control have haste.
    Death comes in the blink of an eye.
    3/4
    Illus. Wayne Reynolds
    #119/145

    I like this guy!  Basically a hill giant with slightly bigger butt and concordant crossroads built in.  Whether he sees constructed play or not is a different question, but I think it might happen.  He’s green so he can hit play earlier… he’s hasty, so he can be the exalted attacker on his first turn, but most importantly, he enables lots of bigger threats to suddenly have the surprise factor of haste.  I like him and his prospects.
    Retaliator Griffin – 1RGW
    Creature – Griffin (Rare)
    Flying
    Whenever a source an opponent controls deals damage to you, put that many +1/+1 counters on Retaliator Griffin.
    2/2
    #123/145

    4-drop 2/2 fliers are just fine in limited.  Ones that grow and grow and grow when you’re hit?  Those are money, bro.  Probably too weak for constructed, but a solid bomb for pack 3 of limited when he’s on color.

    Uril, the Miststalker – 2RGW
    Legendary Creature – Beast (Mythic Rare)
    Uril, the Miststalker can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.
    Uril gets +2/+2 for each Aura attached to it.
    5/5
    Illus. Jaime Jones
    #124/145

    5-drop 5/5 with the one-sided shroud we see on classics like troll ascetic.  Not only that, but he’s like auratog… sort of!  More like he’s got a built-in ancestral mask of sorts.  I doubt he’ll see constructed play, but he’s interesting nonetheless.

    Giant Ambush Beetle – 3{bg}R
    Creature – Insect (Uncommon)
    Haste
    When Giant Ambush Beetle comes into play, you may have target creature block it this turn if able.
    4/3
    #137/145

    A weird take on the provoke mechanic I guess… sort of.  Part provoke, part nettling imp?  A 4/3 haste for 5 doesn’t do much for me, but the weird way in which this guy is removal will let him make the cut into some 40 card decks here and there.

    Nothing spectacular this time, really.  They posted the picture for Meddling Mage, and it answered my question: they are NOT making this version look like Chris Pikula, unless he happened to have gone through gender reassignment surgery since winning the invitational!  Anyway, more fun in the future.

    Alara Reborn Previews Batch 1

    The elephant in the room is the gold theme, and love it or hate it, it’s what they’re running with in this very Legions-esque end to “Invasion, III”.  Some people have been talking about logistical problems like sorting the cards or describing the hybrid-and-third-colored type gold cards, but I think things will work out just fine.  30 cards have already been spoiled, among them a ton of rares and mythic rares.  Here’s my initial reactions to the cards in a couple pithy sentences or so, each.

    Aven Mimeomancer – 1WU
    Creature – Bird Wizard (Rare)
    Flying
    At the beginning of your upkeep, you may put a feather counter on target creature. If you do, that creature is 3/1 and has flying as long as it has a feather counter on it.
    3/1
    Illus. Jesper Ejsing
    #2/145

    Crazy wasp lancer / vendilion clique style flying power, and what’s with the quirky ability?  Immediately I think of vithian stinger type effects.  Occasionally you might suit your saproling token up with some wings too I suppose.  Seems like an interesting and decent creature.

    Fieldmist Borderpost – 1WU
    Artifact (Common)
    You may pay {1} and return a basic land you control its owner’s hand rather than pay Fieldmist Borderpost’s mana cost.
    Fieldmist Borderpost comes into play tapped.
    {T}: Add {W} or {U} to your mana pool.
    Illus. Michael Bruinsma
    #3/145

    How bizarre!  This is like the shittiest mana fixer in history on the face of it as a 3cc, two-color artifact that only gives you mana of the same colors required to play it.  So clearly the question is whether the ability is all that bonkers or not.  Bounce one of your own lands?  It’d be neat with multiple explorations in play, maybe a horn of greed… except the shit comes into play tapped.  I think this is garbage, myself.  I guess it still counts as good fixing.  Playable perhaps in extreme fixer-less situations?

    Ethercaste Knight – WU
    Artifact Creature – Human Knight (Common)
    Exalted
    1/3
    #3/145

    Nice addition to the exalted archetype in limited.  At first I thought I’d like a 2/2 better, but I kind of like the resilience of the 1/3 here… this guy can hold the ground and survive volcanic fallout and infest.

    Firewild Borderpost – 1RG
    Artifact (Common)
    You may pay {1} and return a basic land you control its owner’s hand rather than pay Firewild Borderpost’s mana cost.
    Firewild Borderpost comes into play tapped.
    {T}: Add {R} or {G} to your mana pool.
    Illus. Jean-Sebastien Rossbach

    See above commentary.  I’m not sold on how amazing these really are… they seem worse than things like panoramas, tri-colored shard lands, and landcyclers.

    Meddling Mage – WU
    Creature – Human Wizard (Rare)
    As Meddling Mage comes into play, name a nonland card.
    The named card can’t be played.
    And if it wasn’t for that Meddling Mage, I would have gotten away with it!
    2/2

    Excellent reprint!  So I wonder what the effect will be on the secondary market price of original Mages.  Those meddlesome mages.  Is this one still going to look like Chris pikula?  I’d feel cheated if I were him and they made him look different.  “Will the real meddling mage please stand up?”

    Mistvein Borderpost – 1UB
    Artifact (Common)
    You may pay {1} and return a basic land you control its owner’s hand rather than pay Mistvein Borderpost’s mana cost.
    Mistvein Borderpost comes into play tapped.
    {T}: Add {U} or {B} to your mana pool.
    Illus. Pete Venters
    #27/145

    Yawn…. borderpost.

    Nemesis of Reason – 3UB
    Creature – Leviathan Horror (Rare)
    Whenever Nemesis of Reason attacks, defending player puts the top ten cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.
    3/7
    Illus. Mark Tedin
    #28/145

    Nemesis of Reason!  Nice name.  And among the worst creature types married to among the best… leviathan and horror respectively.  Add a rather bizarre milling ability to the first 3/7 creature in Magic, and this is the Nemesis of Orthodoxy as well.  The card is kind of like glimpse the unthinkable on a funky body…

    Soulquake – 3UUBB
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Return all creatures in play and all creature cards in graveyards to their owners’ hands.
    Illus. Warren Mahy
    #30/145

    Hmm.  Seems like a splashy effect at first,  but this is probably pretty marginal.  Evacuation costs BB less and does the most important part of this spell, and it was only marginal, really.  I think this is another skill tester kind of thing… hopefully you can pawn something like this off on a n00b and steal his meddling mages or something.

    Time Sieve – UB
    Artifact (Rare)
    {T}, Sacrifice five artifacts: Take an extra turn after this one.
    “I pray that I am never considered useless or old.”
    -Sharuum the Hegemon

    Illus. Franz Vohwinkel
    #32/145

    Hmm.  Seems like a bit of a struggle to go infinite with this in standard… you’d want some homonculi, I’m guessing.  In older formats, you might go infinite, but it would be a many-card combo.  For now, I’m going to guess this won’t see much play at all, and will likely not find a combo deck to call home.

    Bituminous Blast – 3BR
    Instant (Uncommon)
    Cascade (When you play this spell, remove cards from the top of your library until you remove a nonland card that costs less. You may play it without paying its mana cost. Put the removed cards on the bottom in a random order.)
    Bituminous Blast deals 4 damage to target creature.
    #34/145

    I love the cascade mechanic.  If they make really cheap cascade cards, then you’d be able to combo with them very much the way oath of druids used to work.  Even without the consistency, though, flipping an Ajani Vengeant with this would seem like quite the deal.  But when you flip Figure of Destiny, do you still like the deal?  I guess I still do, assuming it happens at my opponent’s EOT.  So yeah, I think Cascade has the goods, and can’t wait to see more.

    Defiler of Souls – 3BBR
    Creature – Demon (Mythic Rare)
    Flying
    At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices a monocolored creature.
    “Stray not into sin, lest you face the doorman of an insatiable tomb”
    -Prayer of Asha

    5/5
    Illus. Paul Bonner
    #37/145

    Damn.  This is a super-duper bomb in limited, especially if you have a decent count of multicolor dorks.  I think you could probably build around it in constructed, but then you have to ask whether broodmate dragon is superior, as that’s the flagship 6-drop du jour.  Whereas this guy is less resilient to Path to Exile, it has a potentially larger upside if you nuke a lot of your opponent’s cards… then again, many of the key creatures these days will dodge this effect.  I think it’s bomby in limited, but will have little chance to see constructed play, being overshadowed somewhat by better options on 6 or more mana.

    Terminate – BR
    Instant (Common)
    Destroy target creature. It can’t be regenerated.
    #46/145

    Another solid reprint and more ammunition in my ongoing arguments that Alara block is Invasion III (and the corollary that Ravnica block is Invasion II).  There’s no question that this will see HELLA play all over the place.

    Thought Hemorrhage – 2BR
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Name a nonland card. Target player reveals his or her hand. Thought Hemorrhage deals 3 damage to that player for each card with that name revealed this way. Search that player’s graveyard, hand, and library for all cards with that name and remove them from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library.
    Illus. Chippy
    #47/145

    Cranial Extraction meets lightning bolt and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts!  This set has an interesting “Mashup” theme reminiscent of the nostalgia theme of Time Spiral block, only more understated… more subtle.  These mashup cards are among the most amusing to me… it’s really like they just grabbed some popular cards and said, “what if these were one card?”  Sort of a “duh” design, but interesting cards nonetheless.  The cranial effect is what you want here, and it’s still worth the cost.  The mega-lightning bolt is gravy for the slight color requirement over the original.  Very good card here.

    Veinfire Borderpost – 1BR
    Artifact (Common)
    You may pay {1} and return a basic land you control its owner’s hand rather than pay Veinfire Borderpost’s mana cost.
    Vein Fire Borderpost comes into play tapped.
    {T}: Add {B} or {R} to your mana pool.
    Illus. Ralph Horsley
    #48/145

    Borderpost.  See above.

    Blitz Hellion – 3RG
    Creature – Hellion (Rare)
    Trample, haste
    At end of turn, Blitz Hellion’s owner shuffles it into his or her library.
    7/7
    Illus. Anthony S. Waters
    #49/145

    Another nasty guy here… it’s obviously great when you have something productive to do with this dude before his built-in death sentence kicks in.  Rite of Consumption or something?  This is a great way to avoid decking strategies too.

    Dragon Broodmother – 2RRRG
    Creature – Dragon (Mythic Rare)
    Flying
    At the beginning of each upkeep, put a 1/1 red and green Dragon creature token with flying and devour 2 into play. (As the token comes into play, you may sacrifice any number of creatures. It comes into play with twice that many +1/+1 counters on it.)
    4/4
    Illus. Jean-Sebastien Rossbach
    #53/145

    This one is no joke.  6-drop 4/4 fliers are already okay in limited, and this guy pumps out tokens along the lines of verdant force.  The token you get on your opponent’s turn can eat the one you made on your turn, so you can end up with two 1/1s, or a lone 3/3.  Either way, this thing is a house.  But once again, I’m thinking it’s slightly overshadowed by broodmate dragon, which still gives you a 4/4 in the face of path to exile.

    Spellbreaker Behemoth – 1RGG
    Creature – Beast (Rare)
    Spellbreaker Behemoth can’t be countered.
    Creature spells you control with power 5 or greater can’t be countered.
    5/5
    Illus. Jason Chan
    #60/145

    I got a huge one of these in my player rewards mailing.  I think it’s a great rumbling slum variant, a lineage going back to balduvian horde and even juzam djinn… the 5/5 4-drop.  Control can’t do much about this guy hitting play, but he still rolls over to path to exile.  I think this will probably see some play though, maybe on turn 3 on the back of noble hierarch, despite the color differences.

    Knight of New Alara – 2GW
    Creature – Human Knight (Rare)
    Each other multicolored creature you control gets +1/+1 for each of its colors.
    2/2
    Illus. David Palumbo
    #70/145

    Wow!  This can be a GIGANTIC boost to some creatures.  I think it will see play for sure.  8 “power” Doran, for instance, seems appealing.  Not much else to say about this guy…

    Pale Recluse – 4GW
    Creature – Spider (Common)
    Reach
    Forestcycling {2}, plainscycling {2}
    4/5
    #74/145

    This will be a staple of limited, at least for its relevant archetypes, helping smooth early mana or hold off tower gargoyles and the like.  It’s a little expensive, but it’s flexible enough that I could see it making the cut.

    Wildfield Borderpost – 1GW
    Artifact (Common)
    You may pay {1} and return a basic land you control its owner’s hand rather than pay Wildfield Borderpost’s mana cost.
    Wildfield Borderpost comes into play tapped.
    {T}: Add {G} or {W} to your mana pool.
    Illus. Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
    #80/145

    And the last borderpost.

    Spellbound Dragon – 3UR
    Creature – Dragon (Rare)
    Flying.
    Whenever Spellbound Dragon attacks, draw a card, then discard a card. Spellbound Dragon gets +X/+0 until end of turn, where X is the discarded card’s converted mana cost.
    3/5
    Illus. Jesper Ejsing
    #90/145

    Another dragon, and another mashup.  This time I see Ironroot Treefolk-like power and toughness, Looter il-kor‘s ability mashed up with Blazing Shoal, and of course, all this smashed into something like Fledgling Dragon or something.  The end result is agressively costed and in this set in particular can do some beefy damage with all the 8-drops running around.  Ability aside, it can hold the skies / ground just fine with its 5-butt.  All said a bomb in limited, and probably too weird / weak to make a huge splash in constructed.

    Maelstrom Pulse – 1BG
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Destroy target nonland permanent and each permanent that shares a name with that permanent.
    Illus. Anthony Francisco
    #92/145

    Insanely good removal here.  Flores pointed out right away that his preview card is best compared to vindicate / putrefy.  This card is very versatile, very flexible, and very very good.  It will definitely see tons of play in constructed, and will randomely be your best removal spell in limited.  It can nail planeswalkers, and can randomly 241 or better an opponent who walks into it.  Also, it’s hell on the ubiquitous tokens decks of modern standard.  So yeah, this is probably a chase rare material.  I wonder if this card will be enough to challenge the dogma of running 4-ofs… will this spur people to run fewer copies of more diverse threats, just to avoid having a potentially bad second copy of something?  We’ll see.  It will at least punish people who don’t play around it in the beginning.

    Sages of the Anima – 3GU
    Creature – Elf Wizard (Rare)
    If you would draw a card, instead reveal the top three cards of your library. Put all creature cards revealed this way into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
    3/4
    Illus. Kev Walker
    #103/145

    Wow.  Seems like this might be good enough to throw in an elf deck for testing, though I wonder if it’s not a bit pricey, considering you can get regal force for two more and just draw a metric shit-ton of cards, creatures, lands, and all.  Still, the selection is undeniable, and it seems like it might be enough to build around.  I’m a notorious optimist though… he’s probably constructed garbage.

    In limited, this would only help you if you had a very high creature count, and I would think that the preclusion of drawing any more removal might be enough to relegate this guy to case-by-case inclusion in only the weirdest of pools.  Maybe if you’re bomb heavy and removal light, and you plan to just out-man them?  Hell, I dunno…

    Sphinx of the Steel Wind – 5WUB
    Artifact Creature – Sphinx (Mythic Rare)
    Flying, first strike, vigilance, lifelink, protection from Red and from Green
    No one has properly answered her favorite riddle: “Why should I spare your life?”
    6/6
    Illus. Kev Walker
    #110/145

    Sphinx-kroma, eh?  Well, these abilities are impressive, but without haste, there’s too many ways to nuke this thing before it even gains you any life.  Terror, maybe?  Path to Exile?  And at 8cc, it’s just outclassed once more by WAY more powerful threats.  Wouldn’t you rather have Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker, for example?  Still, an undeniable bomb when it has any kind of time to do something.

    Thraximundar – 4UBR
    Legendary Creature – Zombie Assassin (Mythic Rare)
    Haste
    Whenever Thraximundar attacks, defending player sacrifices a creature.
    Whenever a player sacrifices a creature, you may put a +1/+1 counter on Thraximundar.
    6/6
    Illus. Raymond Swanland
    #113/145

    Besides having an excellent name (you know there’s going to be a kitten out there somewhere named Thraximundar any day now… it’s just a matter of time), I think this guy is pretty flavorful and “neat.”  And with Haste, you can reasonably ensure that the opponent will really have to sacrifice SOMETHING.  The picture on this guy is neat too.  Reminds me of the Shrike from the Hyperion novels.  The mythic rares in this set are, thus far, somewhat Johnny-esque in my opinion… they’re “cool” rather than…  you know… “good.”

    Lavalanche – XBRG
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Lavalanche deals X damage to target player and each creature he or she controls.
    Alara’s burning blood cannot be contained by mere earth and stone.
    Illus. Steve Argyle
    #118/145

    Holy crap!  Okay, so you’re paying BG more than for, say, Rolling Earthquake, but for that paltry sum, the whole thing is one-sided!?  Yowza!  The only thing holding this card back from being a powerhouse is that banefire is likely still a far superior finisher, and so this will be a niche card.

    Unscythe, Killer of Kings – UBBR
    Legendary Artifact – Equipment (Rare)
    Equipped creature gets +3/+3 and has first strike.
    Whenever a creature dealt damage by equipped creature this turn is put into a graveyard, you may remove that card from the game. If you do, put a 2/2 black Zombie creature token into play.
    Equip {2}
    Illus. Karl Kopinski
    #124/145

    Okay, a 4-drop equipment with equip of 2 is already somewhat slow… and I think the effect presented here is probably only enough to make this card a strong limited player…. I can’t see a deck using this in constructed… no way.  But in limited, it’s undeniably strong.  There are limited ways to deal with artifacts, particularly non-creature artifacts.  This will give you a strong defender or striker, and either way, once the opponent is forced to deal with it, the token generation makes it a losing proposition.  I’m just not that thrilled about a 4-mana spell with additional requirements that doesn’t win the game on the spot really… It does create a fast clock if it sticks though and if everything goes according to plan.  Meh… I’m in the air.  I don’t see myself excluding it from a deck that can run it, but I also see myself happily passing it in a draft where I’m not on-color already.

    Jenara, Asura of War – GWU
    Legendary Creature – Angel (Mythic Rare)
    Flying
    {1}{W}: Put a +1/+1 counter on Jenara, Asura of War.
    Wounded soldiers looked up, grateful for her appearance. But she passed over them, her eyes firmly on their foe.
    3/3
    Illus. Chris Rahn
    #126/145

    Interesting card here.  There’s a fair number of quality 3-drops competing for play.  Will the new pulse card above create the room for some singleton copies of this card alongside Rhox war monks and rafiq of the many?  Who knows.  This is about the most vanilla mythic rare yet, isn’t it?  Also it’s among the cheapest angels at 3cc.  Very cool card.  Not necessarily incredibly good, but definitely cool.

    Jund Hackblade – {BG}R
    Creature – Goblin Beserker (Common)
    As long as you control another multicolored permanent, Jund Hackblade gets +1/+1 and has haste.
    2/1
    Illus. Dan Dos Santos
    #138/145

    3/2 haste for 2 is going to be built around and probably going to be solid.  The early damage potential is too much to ignore, especially when figure of destiny and tattermunge maniac already see play.  So yeah, this will be strong.  In limited, it’s situationally awesome as well.

    Marisi’s Twinclaws – 2{rw}G
    Creature – Cat Warrior (Uncommon)
    Double strike
    2/4
    #140/145

    Hmm… a 2/4 doublestrike is a mean defender, and can still be ofensively powerful with the right buffs.  Still somehow I’m seeing this as a bit slow maybe… i don’t know… it’s a fine card in the right deck that wants to tie up the ground in the middle turns and build to fatties, I guess.

    That’s all for now.  When another 10 or 20 are spoiled, join me again for more knee-jerk thoughts and pithy comments!

    New Conflux Cards – Batch 04

    Paragon of the Amesha – 2W
    Creature – Human Knight (Uncommon)
    First strike
    {W}{U}{B}{R}{G}: Until end of turn, Paragon of the Amesha gets +3/+3, gains flying and lifelink, and becomes an Angel in addition to its other creature types.
    2/2

    Let’s see.  Another first strike gray ogre, so it’s playable at worst.  If you happen to have domain, it’s a house and a half, capable of ten-point life deltas.  Sick in limited, underpowered for constructed.

    Valiant Guard – W
    Creature – Human Soldier (Common)
    “Alright, this is making you cry, it’s making me cry. Life’s hard enough as it is; you don’t wanna cry anymore.”
    0/3

    What can you really say about a spell like this?  “Strictly better than wall of wood?”  “Sort of like shield bearer?”  “Yawn…?”

    Faerie Mechanist – 3U
    Artifact Creature – Faerie Artificer (Common)
    Flying
    When Faerie Mechanist comes into play, look at the top 3 cards of your library, reveal an artifact card amongst them and put it in your hand, an put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
    2/2

    Once again, 4-drop 2/2 flyer is staple goodness in limited.  The ability is gravy, and it isn’t terrible.  Situationally you’ll really want to hit a particular artifact, in which case, so much the better.  Even if you whiff, you can pretty much go zen on the ability: who’s to say those three would have been the top three if you hadn’t looked using the fairy?  Schrodinger’s cat, trees in the forest with nobody around, all that jazz.  Point being, you’re not much worse off if you whiff.  Surely a dunce in constructed though.

    Nyxathid – 1BB
    Creature – Horror (Rare)
    As Nyxathid comes into play, choose an opponent.
    Nyxathid gets -1/-1 for each card in the chosen player’s hand.
    7/7

    I sure like horrors.  For some reason (the 7/7 probably), hunted horror was the first comparison that sprung to mind.  But they’re pretty different really.  I think it may have some serious uses in constructed though, in a discard-centric strategy, clearly.  He’s cheap enough, but it will probably be a tension between the beater and other, potent 3-drop discard spells… heck, I don’t know.  He seems like a good finisher for this kind of deck though.  “Cheap and big” has made a name for itself in recent times.

    Salvage Slasher – 1B
    Artifact Creature – Human Rogue (Common)
    Salvage Slasher gets +1/+0 for each artifact card in your graveyard.
    1/1

    Hmmm, a hard one to call!  I think in limited this guy’s “just” fine, a he’s underpowered only in narrow early game situations, but you can clearly draft a deck in which he’s a very large late game threat.  Nonetheless, he’s not evasive, and he’s vulnerable with that lone point of toughness.  This takes some of the sting out of him.  If only it were +1/+1, right?!  I think in the end, it’s probably a loser.

    Hellspark Elemental – 1R
    Creature – Elemental (Uncommon)
    Trample, haste
    At end of turn, sacrifice Hellspark Elemental.
    Unearth {1}{R}
    3/1

    I like the ugrade on spark elemental, but the name is kind of lame.  What next, Purgatoryspark Elemental?  Michiganspark Elemental?  Anyway, I’ll pay double for the chance to pay double again!  Part of the draw of sparky, the first, is that it’s lightning bolt levels of damage-to-mana ratio.  This guy’s only incinerate levels at best.  Still, reach is important, and red’s starved enough for card advantage that it plays shit like browbeat and such.  So a double-duty card is roughly as good as card economy can get for red.  I like it, but I like it more in constructed than limited.

    Blood Tyrant – 4UBR
    Creature – Vampire (Rare)
    Flying
    At the beginning of your upkeep each player loses 1 life.
    Whenever a player loses life in this way, put that many +1/+1 counters on Blood Tyrant.
    Whenever a player loses the game, put 5 +1/+1 counters on Blood Tyrant.
    5/5

    Sick multiplayer / casual card!  I like the flavor of some beastly vampire sucking the corpse of your buddy bob dry.  It’s very bomby in limited, swinging for 7, then 9, and that should be that.  A very fast clock once on board, and difficult to kill, especially after that first upkeep.  Awesome stuff.  I love when flavorful cards are decent as well.

    Elder Mastery – 3BRU
    Enchantment – Aura (Uncommon)
    Enchant Creature
    Enchanted creature gets +3/+3, has flying, and has “whenever this creature deals damage to a player, that player discards two cards”.

    Still an aura.  A 6-drop aura.  It’d have to be damn good to justify that.  This card is what’s referred to as a “skill tester.”  Seems like you’re just begging for a 241, and any time it works, you would likely have won anyway, and probably would have done so faster if you didn’t play this wonky thing.  That said, be prepared to lose to some squirt at the prerelease who slaps this bad boy on Wall_of_Wood 2.0, and destroys you.

    Esper Cormorants – 2WU
    Artifact Creature – Bird (Common)
    Flying
    “I am Boxxy, you see?!”
    3/3

    It’s no phantom monster, even if it has a better creature type… but yeah, it’s basically phantom monster.  Listen folks, in this game, hill giant is where it’s at.  Flying hill giant is well worth another color in the neopolitan set.

    Hellkite Hatchling – 2RG
    Creature – Dragon (Uncommon)
    Devour 1
    Hellkite Hatchling has flying and trample if it devoured a creature.
    2/2

    Shityeah!  I mean, unless you can set it up well, the cormorants above are superior, but the flavor rocks, and in the right deck, this is a beating.  I’m thinking unblocked dragon fodder tokens (again, flavorful to boot) are destined for this guy.  In a 4-color deck, he could eat some homonculi.  Meh… so yeah, he probably sucks, but I get caught up in the flavor of this stuff sometime.  This guy sucks.  But he’s still cool.

    Meglonoth – 3RGW
    Creature – Beast (Rare)
    Vigilance, trample
    Whenever Meglonoth blocks a creature, Meglonoth deals damage equal to its power to target player.
    6/6

    I love this incredibly strong dude!  SO good, right?  The concept is one of those savory moments where you’re like, “of course!  Why didn’t they think of this long ago?”  Damage by blocking, AND he’s huge, AND he’s vigilant.  All with a respectable if not downright bomby 6/6 bod for 6.  Wait a minute… 666?  Beast?  Strange one-word biblical-esque name?  What would Jesus do?  That’s right, he’d dome your ass for 6, so don’t even think about attacking, succa!

    Vectis Agents – 3UB
    Artifact Creature – Human Rogue (Common)
    {U}{B}: Vectis Agents gets -2/-0 and is unblockable until end of turn.
    4/3

    Yawn.  Some kid will kill me with it.  I hate it though.  It’s very terrible.

    Ancient Ziggurat
    Land (Uncommon)
    {T}: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This mana can only be used to play creature spells.

    Very cool concept here as well.  Like a better but similar-sort-of primal beyond… that, you know… can’t add colorless.  I think it’s going to be hard pressed to see play though, unless there’s some weird legions-esque decks.  It’s a steep drawback.  But clearly there’s a slew of casual kinds of decks that love seeing this uncommon land.  Slivers, for example, love this crap.

    Reliquary Tower
    Land (Uncommon)
    You have no maximum hand size.
    {T}: Add {1} to your mana pool.

    I like this land better, and also like the concept here.  Very library of leng… very spellbook.  In land form!  Very cool.  The effect isn’t typically tournament worthy / relevant, but it’s another cool effect done well, which makes my flavor sense happy.

    New Conflux Cards – Batch 03

    Court Homunculus – W
    Artifact Creature – Homunculus (Common)
    Court homunculus gets +1/+1 if you control another artifact.
    1/1

    At best, he’s non-legendary Isamaru.  At worst, he’s eager cadet that dies to naturalize.  I’m thinking he’s a bit player in a very narrow archetype.  Not seeing him doing a lot outside of 40-card formats.  Neat creature type though!

    Banefire – XR
    Sorcery (Rare)
    Banefire deals X damage to target creature or player. If X is 5 or greater, Banefire can’t be countered by spells or abilities and the damage can’t be prevented.

    Holy crap.  Holiest of holy craps.  This is easily one of the big-money chase rares of the set.  I never thought I’d say that a card makes demonfire look like crap, but this card makes demonfire look like crap.  This is just incredible.  SO powerful.  Flores’ NY state champs “This Girl” deck of a few years back was all about sneakily distracting the opponent from the end-game plan of hellbent demonfire.  This is a similar card, but requires so much less setup.  No hellbent required.  And let’s be honest, when are you going to ever cast this for less than 5?  Seldom.  Very seldom.  Only if you’re doing so very early to nuke some kind of dude to buy time… but c’mon, you already wanted to burn for large amounts.  It’s sad how outdated and crappy all those old stalwarts have become.  Disintegrate, lava burst, fireball, earthquake.  These all got outclassed by the new school of demonfire and molten disaster, though earthquake and rolling earthquake still have their places… Banefire is like another plateau leap upward, leaving the rest behind yet again.  Incredible card.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, consider that playsets are already selling for ~$50 on ebay.

    Dragonsoul Knight – 2R
    Creature – Human Knight (Uncommon)
    First strike
    {W}{B}{U}{R}{G}: Dragonsoul Knight gets +5/+3, has flying, trample, and is a Dragon in addition to its other creature types until end of turn.
    2/2

    Not bad as simply a first-striking gray ogre, so the ability is just gravy, and will obviously win some games if you can draft enough of the (ample, it seems) domain enablers.  Probably going to see quite a bit of play, I’m guessing, in limited.  Note you can use the ability multiple times to accrue +5/+3 again and again… unlikely but there.  (does that make it a “Dragon Dragon?”)

    Worldheart Phoenix – 3R
    Creature – Phoenix (Rare)
    Flying
    You may play Worldheart Phoenix from your graveyard by paying {W}{U}{B}{R}{G} rather than paying it’s mana cost. If you do, it comes into play with two +1/+1 counters on it.
    2/2

    Let me just state for the record that I love the Phoenix creature type, so perhaps I’m biased.  I like this guy.  4-drop 2/2 fliers are just fine in limited.  Ones that come back as air elementals for domain are pretty damn good.

    Matca Rioters – 2G
    Creature – Human Warrior (Common)
    Domain – Matca Rioters’ power and toughness are each equal to the number of basic land types among lands you control.
    */*

    Seems like this will usually be a gray ogre at worst, but potentially a 3-drop 5/5.  The only real precedent here is phyrexian negator, the comparison to which is a bit like apples to oranges.  Negator is clearly tons better than this situational dude, but sometimes he’ll be a mid-to-late game drawback-and-trample free negator.  Not terrible.  I think he’s very playable.  A lot of times in this format he’ll be an easier-to-play gnarled mass.

    Shard Convergence – 3G
    Sorcery (Uncommon)
    Search your library for a Plains card, an Island card, a Swamp card, and a Mountain card. Put these cards into your hand, then shuffle your library.

    Hmm.  A bit of a slow way to get domain going.  If you have land’s edge or seismic assault in play, this is an 8-point lightning blast.  Yawn.  I think it sees limited play, but it’s not my favorite.  You can’t really count a 4-cc spell as a fixer… I’d much rather be playing the basic landcyclers.

    Tukatongue Thallid – G
    Creature – Fungus (Common)
    Whenever Tukatongue Thallid goes to the graveyard from play, put a 1/1 green Saproling token into play.
    1/1

    As far as nearly-vanilla 1-drop 1/1s go, this guy’s probably a small step above benalish hero.  It’s like two sequentially appearing eager cadets for the price of one.  I’m almost certain some sick combo exists in which you cycle this fool through the yard again and again leaving yourself with an army of saprolings, but my self-imposed ~5 second-ish impression window was insufficient for me to think such a combo up.  I’m pretty sure it’s there somewhere, but probably uses 3 or more cards.  This guy does double-duty as a chump blocker, so maybe the swarm + team pump stratagems will employ him.

    Armillary Sphere – 2
    Artifact (Common)
    {2}, {T}, Sacrifice Armillary Sphere: Search your library for up to 2 basic land cards, reveal them, and put them into your hand. Then shuffle your library.

    Hmm.  I think I like this one.  Compare it to something like Journey of Discovery, and the “installment plan” kind of thing (plus the accompanying option to use the ability at EOT, when you have nothing better to do) probably makes this slightly better, despite being exposed to the usual artifact hate.  I think you could do worse if you’re trying to draft the domain deck.  (Shard convergence, for instance, is almost certainly inferior).

    Bone Saw – 0
    Artifact – Equipment (Common)
    Equip {1}- Equipped creature gets +1/+0.

    Sick name on this one!  Lol.  Bonesplitter seems to be the obvious point of reference here.  For waiting another turn (and spending another mana), you get another +1/+0 out of the original.  Whether it’s just because I have a soft spot for 0-cc artifacts or not I can’t say, but I think I like this one better.  On the other hand, whereas bonesplitter’s +2 is actually relevant and can speed up clocks well, this one is a pretty marginal effect.  Usually there will (should) be something more effective to take up the slot this guy wants to take up.